The power to punish
The Communist Party document also pledged to improve the way environmental rules are enforced by establishing a more "unified" central government authority and by eliminating administrative overlaps.
Experts expect China to strengthen the powers of the environmental ministry as part of a wider government department reshuffle likely to take place during the annual session of parliament in March next year.
Officials, including vice-environment minister Pan Yue, have complained that the current regime lacks teeth, partly because many crucial environmental responsibilities are dispersed across a wide range of departments.
(Read more: China smog emergency shuts city of 11 million people)
Next year's reshuffle could see the environment ministry taking on responsibilities currently held by the State Forestry Commission, the Ministry of Water Resources as well as the powerful planning superministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, none of which consider environmental protection a priority.
The pledges made in last week's document will also be bolstered by amendments to the country's environmental protection laws, which are expected to be published soon and will give environmental agencies a range of new powers to fine and punish serial violators, as well as improve the way Beijing monitors pollution across the country.
But Zhou of Nanjing University said the new rules are unlikely to go far enough.
"In my opinion, it is typical Chinese lip service and should not be treated seriously," he said. "What will really solve the current environmental degradation is to systematically re-appraise all the problematic projects and let justice be served regarding all the perpetrators."