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China to Review Environmental Protection Law

BritCham / CBBC
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China’s decade old Environmental Protection Law is to be reviewed in an effort to increase penalties for polluters and hold local governments accountable.

The Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) is currently soliciting advice on a draft proposal relating to the Environmental Protection Law. Bie Tao, deputy director of the policy, law and regulation department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced that its review by the standing committee will take place as early as December.

The law was first published in 1989, and many of its provisions no longer address the country's enormous pollution problems created during its rapid industrialization and urbanization.

The revision aims to improve existing mechanisms, such as the environmental impact for development projects, and to include new administrative and market-oriented policies to prevent pollution.

One highlight of the draft is a proposal to strengthen local governments' legal responsibilities in environmental protection. Although local governments are obliged to meet energy conservation and CO2 emission reduction targets, the legal obligations behind them are ambiguous.

Should the draft proposal be accepted it will mean that polluters who refuse to stop dumping waste will face daily penalties until their activities are halted; this is a similar mechanism used in western countries and it is highly effective due to the large fines that can be accumulated.

The draft proposal also pushes for greater transparency on pollution information from both government and enterprises, and public interest litigation, which allows individuals, NGOs and government bodies to sue polluters on behalf of the public, will for the first time be endorsed by law if the draft proposal is approved by the legislature.

Source: China Daily

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