Li Ganjie, vice minister for environmental protection, said only 3 of the 74 major cities subject to air quality monitoring met national quality standards set in 2013, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Beijing in May announced new standards meant to cut emissions from various pollutants, ranging from mercury to tin. Last month, the government said it would pull more than 5 million cars off the road as part of a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a critical step for a country facing a growing ecological crisis and international pressure to reduce pollution.
Early this year, Chinese officials said the amount of smog blanketing major metropolitan areas like Beijing meant the country's agricultural future may be at risk. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meanwhile, warned the use of fossil fuels was pushing the global environmental to the brink of disaster.
China aims to curb emissions by 40 percent from a 2005 baseline by 2020. It is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, followed by the United States, India and Russia.