Just days after China's new premier, Li Keqiang, promised to "show even greater resolve" in the government's promised crackdown on air and water pollution, officials have reportedly confirmed tough new fuel efficiency standards for new cars in the world's largest auto market.
According to Reuters' reports, five government bodies, including the National Development and Reform Commission, have confirmed long-awaited fuel efficiency rules that will require manufacturers to deliver average fleet efficiency of 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres by 2015, falling to 5.0 litres per 100km by 2020.
The new rules will require manufacturers to deliver significant improvements given the most recent available data shows average efficiency stood at 7.8 litres per 100km. The changes make China the latest major auto market to tighten fuel efficiency standards, after US President Barack Obama introduced a new series of fuel efficiency standards last year and the EU announced plans for more demanding emissions standards through to 2020.
The move came following Li's first press conference on Sunday, where he promised to accelerate action to tackle the country's worsening smog and water pollution problem, which has seen pollution hit record levels in recent months, prompting protests in some areas of the country.
He promised to enforce a new package of laws designed to tackle polluting industrial facilities, including rules that could see some of the most inefficient factories shut down.
"We need to face the situation and punish offenders with no mercy and enforce the law with an iron fist," he said, adding that he would also accelerate plans to build a more sustainable economy. "We shouldn't pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment. Such growth won't satisfy the people."
Separately, the Chinese Electricity Council has released new figures confirming that the country's renewable energy boom is continuing. The data reveals that for the first time Chinese new wind power production exceeded new coal power production last year.
The figures show that thermal power generation capacity, which comes predominantly from coal-fired power plants, grew by only 0.3 per cent during 2012 with the addition of 12TWh of electricity. But in contrast wind power production expanded by 26TWh to 100TWh. The surge in new output means that China now generates more wind power than nuclear power.