China is set to put together a fund for tackling air pollution in heavily affected cities, with Rmb10 billion ($1.6 billion) allocation to help industry comply with new environmental standards.
The move comes as a comparison of the ecology of over 40 major international cities by researchers at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences ranked Beijing the last bar one.
According to the state media, the pollution index neared extreme levels, and was near a level that was no longer livable for human beings.
According to commentators, the move by the government, comes as a recognition that tackling air pollution required addressing the reliance of big cities on heavy industry for jobs and economic growth.
Last year, China came out with a plan aimed at reducing air pollution in the smoggy North China plain, Shanghai and Guangdong in the south, but the government continued to encourage the development of coal-based industry less prosperous western portions of the county.
Chinese premier Li Keqiang warned at a cabinet meeting late yesterday that there would be no quick fixes.
The Financial Times quoted him Li as saying at a cabinet meeting that China's air pollution had accumulated over the long-term, so people needed to be fully aware of the grim task of prevention work and persevering without flagging.
The fund is being set up to reward rather than offer subsidies for the prevention and control of air pollution in the key areas, according to a statement issued after the meeting.
It added that the control of pollutants such as particulate matter in the air needed to be a key task.
Pollution has emerged as a major concern for the country's leaders, who are keen on preventing potential unrest with affluent city dwellers increasingly questioning the growth-at-all-costs economic model that had blighted much of the country's air, water and soil.
The statement added the consumption of coal needed to be controlled and also called for boosting efforts to promote high-quality petrol for vehicles, energy saving in construction and the use of environmentally friendly boilers.
The fund would be set up to reward the prevention and control of air pollution in the key areas, according to a statement released after the meeting.
According to commentators, the government seemed eager to bring about a visible improvement in the country's bad air which had led to discontent among its citizens and sullied the reputation of the country abroad.