China has announced stricter motor fuel standards in a bid to reduce harmful emissions after smog blanketed much of the country last month -- but the measures will not come fully into force for almost five years.
"Following the rapid growth in car ownership, automobile emissions are having an increasing impact on air pollution," the central government said in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday.
The powerful State Council, or cabinet, mandated that sulfur content for both petrol and diesel would be set at no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) by 2017, a reduction from the current 50 ppm, according to the statement.
Burning fuel with sulfur produces sulfur dioxide, a major air pollutant.
The Chinese capital Beijing has already started to implement the new standard but other cities will have a "grace period" until the end of 2017, the official Xinhua news agency said separately.
"The timetable shows that China will step up its pace to upgrade gas quality," Wang Zhen, deputy head of the China Energy Strategy Research Institute at the China University of Petroleum, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.