BEIJING (AP) — China's premier promised in a major speech Wednesday to cut pollution emissions, conserve energy and shut down outmoded and inefficient factories in heavily polluting industries such as electricity, coal and steel.
''We must increase our sense of urgency and intensify efforts to make greater progress,'' Premier Wen Jiabao said at the opening of the national legislature's annual session.
''First, we will implement the plan to close down backward production facilities in the electricity, steel, cement, coal and papermaking industries,'' Wen said.
China's double-digit economic growth has come with a surge in heavily polluting industries such as manufacturing and energy. The country is home to 16 of the world's 20 most heavily polluted cities.
Intense pollution in developing countries has complicated international discussions on curbing emissions, with the United States rejecting the 1997 Kyoto protocol in part because it did not require firm enough commitments from developing nations such as China and India on reducing greenhouse gases.
In his speech, Wen also promised a renewed push to rein in ''haphazard'' investment and ''unneeded development projects'' in highly polluting industries.
China's communist leadership has recently become more sensitive to the environmental cost of the country's economic boom after a series of high-profile accidents polluted rivers, disrupting water supplies to major cities. Farmers have protested over tainted water supplies and ruined land.
Wen said China will work toward breakthroughs in technologies for producing vehicles powered by new energy sources and to develop high-speed rail transport.
China's growing demand for cars has worsened the smog blanketing many larger cities. In Beijing, the site of this summer's Olympics, organizers have been debating strategies to take half of the capital's more than 3 million-plus vehicles off the roads during the Games.
The premier said Beijing also wants to strengthen efforts to protect and conserve its natural resources, including land, water, grasslands and minerals.