Only 20 percent of cities in China met the air quality target in 2016, an academician said on Tuesday at a seminar on low carbon development.
"According to the air quality standard enacted in 2016, only 20 percent of 338 cities in China reached the national standard. There is still a long way to go before most of the cities meet the standard," Hao Jiming, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the seminar held in Beijing.
Chinese cities were required to reduce pollution in 2016, with the average density of PM 2.5 - fine particles that pose a health risk - in 338 cities falling by 6 percent, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.
The environment standard in China is equivalent to the first-stage guidelines of the World Health Organization, which is low by global standards, said Hao, adding that the green development is the way to prevent and control air pollution, and the challenge is to find the means for emissions reeducation.
Xu Shanda, former deputy director of the State Administration of Taxation, said at the meeting that China's law is inadequate in terms of penalties for violators. "There is a need to amend and improve some articles in Criminal Law and Civil Law," Xu said.
Severe smog triggered red alerts in more than 20 cities at the beginning of 2017. When authorities issue red alerts, some manufacturers are required to cut production, and high-emission vehicles are banned from the road, the Xinhua said.
China has a four-tier, color-coded warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
China is aiming to reduce emissions by 10 percent from 2012 levels by 2017 in cities at the prefecture level and above. Meanwhile, the PM 2.5 density in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province should drop 25 percent, the Xinhua said.