Move to cut acid-rain toxins by 66%

ACID rain-causing pollution from power stations could be cut by nearly two-thirds over the next five years, as the government promises intensified efforts to meet environmental goals that have so far been missed. 

China has said it would reduce emissions of major pollutants by 10% by 2010, but growth-driven local officials and industries have ignored the target, and last year output of sulphur dioxide instead grew by 1.8%. 

Frantically industrialising China is the world's top emitter of sulphur dioxide – output rose 27% from 2000 to 2005, mostly from power stations. Officials have said the resulting acid rain affects a third of the mainland, damaging crops and threatening food security. 

The National Development and Reform Commission, which steers industrial policy, and the State Environmental Protection Administration issued rules late on Tuesday that target coal-burning power stations, as the government seeks to stick to the pollution-reduction goal. 

Beijing itself has pledged to clean up its polluted air in time for the Olympic Games in 2008, and the city's worst polluter – the Shougang Iron and Steel Group – is packing up and leaving. 

The new plan aims to prod power operators to become greener by offering tax rewards, and punishing companies that let the equipment go idle. – Reuters  

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