Beijing: China has achieved the pollution reduction targets for major pollutants outlined in its 12th Five-Year Plan, six months ahead of schedule, Environment Minister Chen Jining said on Sunday.
Nonetheless, a substantial improvement of the environment will only be possible if pollution is reduced by a further 30 to 50 percent, Xinhua quoted the minister as saying.
According to Chen, by 2014 discharge of sulphur dioxide and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), a measure of organic pollutants in water, had dropped by 12.9 and 10.1 percent from 2010 levels.
Emissions of ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide had also declined by 9.8 and 8.6 percent.
Discharges of the four major pollutants continued to drop in the first half of this year, Chen said.
In the 12th Five-Year Plan (2010-2015) China vowed to cut COD and sulphur dioxide emissions by eight percent and ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide emissions by 10 percent compared with 2010 levels.
The environment minister also said that the surface area affected by acid rain in China had shrunk to 1990s levels, while water quality had also improved significantly.
However, some 20 million tonnes of major pollutants are still discharged annually in China, and that figure must be reduced by another 30 to 50 percent, the minister said.
One year after the world's second-largest economy "declared war" on pollution, following decades of pursuing growth at the expense of the environment, Chinese citizens are still concerned about air quality, particularly in the big, industrial cities.
Chen said China was committed to further reducing COD, sulphur dioxide, ammonia nitrogen and nitrogen oxide in the next five years, and will impose obligatory reduction targets for volatile organic compounds (VOC).