( dpa ) - China's capital has laid out new plans to limit the exhaust from vehicles that has contributed to dangerous levels of air pollution ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
China's foreign ministry on Saturday said Beijing remained committed to becoming the "green" games this summer but acknowledged there was still much work to be done.
"We will deliver on our promise," said spokesman Liu Jianchao. "We will create a comfortable environment for the athletes and tourists."
China plans to ban the sale of new cars that fail to meet stringent emissions standards as of March 1, the state news agency Xinhua reported. Tougher emissions rules would also be in place by July for state food delivery trucks, postal delivery services and other public departments.
Du Shaozhong of Beijing's environmental agency said about one- third of the pollutants in Beijing's air came from vehicle emissions and the new measures would go a long way to cleaning up the air.
Officials on Friday announced they would close about 10 per cent of the capital region's gas stations by the end of May and fit the remainder with special nozzles that would help reduce the level of fumes escaping from pumps, according to Xinhua.
Air pollution has been a key concern for the International Olympic Committee and its national affiliates. The IOC said it will consider postponing endurance events if pollution levels are too high. China is already considering severely curbing traffic and closing factories in Beijing once athletes arrive for training.
A senior leader of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, called Friday on organizers and local authorities to make an "even greater effort" to prepare for the games. It was unclear if Jinping, a possible candidate to replace Hu Jintao as China's leader in 2012, had taken control of the preparations, as was reported by a Hong Kong newspaper.
Jianchao said the Chinese leadership was working closely with the local authorities to keep preparations on track.