BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese official on Saturday urged speeded efforts to improve air quality in cities, saying the people cannot wait too long for the air to be cleaned.
"Eighteen years is too long to wait," said Lyu Xinhua when asked to comment the authority's timetable for major Chinese cities to make air quality conform to the national standard by 2030. "We wish to shorten the period."
Ministry of Environmental Protection set timetables in January for cities experiencing different degrees of air pollution. Cities where average air pollution levels are 15 percent higher than the national standard or less should work to bring the levels to standard by 2015.
Cities suffering heavy air pollution that is 30 percent above the national standard or higher should try to meet standards by 2030, and cities between the previously mentioned categories are expected to meet the standards by 2020.
Lyu, spokesman for the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said China's energy consumption is huge as the country is in the process of rapid development of industrialization and urbanization.
China's energy structure is not reasonable and the awareness of some companies to protect environment is still poor, Lyu said at a press conference.
He acknowledged that it is difficult for some cities, including Beijing, to meet the national standard in terms of air quality in short term.
Lyu said the government should invest more and enhance legislation on the environmental protection. The public's participation and supervision is also of great significance, he said.
Prolonged smog shrouded many parts of the country in January. Beijing experienced only five days with clear sky in the month, according to the Beijing municipal meteorological bureau.