China's top environmental authority is preparing to step up the pressure on polluters by raising the threshold of the nation's environmental standards.
The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) will draw up and update nearly 1,400 environmental protection criteria during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) period, covering areas such as pollution, high-energy consumption industries and over-capacity.
The number is four times as high as the 320 updates over the past five years.
"Environmental protection serves as technological reference for environment supervisors and law enforcers, and a ruler for enterprises to measure their pollution treatment. The amendment will have a great impact on China's environment," Wang Mingliang, an official from the department of science and technology at SEPA, told Xinhua News Agency.
SEPA will hold a national conference on science and technology over the next two days, and discussion of the new standards is on the agenda.
Among the near-1,400 criteria, seven will be related to environmental quality, 121 will concern pollution control and 1,122 will pinpoint environmental requirements of different sectors.
New standards are expected governing circular economy, environmentally friendly industry, emissions monitoring, nuclear and electromagnetic radiation and measures for dealing with emergencies.
"The latest scientific and technological developments at home and abroad will support the amendment," Wang said. "Some advanced standards in developed countries will also be introduced, such as the European standard for auto exhausts."
"With the progress of China's economic and scientific development, the gap in environmental protection standards between China and foreign countries will gradually be bridged."
In the past five years, China has completed a series of important environmental standards, including standards for air pollution by coal-fire power plants and the cement industry, water pollution by medical institutions, combustion of dangerous waste and auto pollution.
Currently China has more than 880 environmental protection items, but according to Wang a lack of funds is hindering SEPA's efforts.
"There aren't sufficient funds to carry on the amendment work," Wang told Xinhua.
"Although the Ministry of Finance increased its grant from the previous 4 million yuan (US$500,000) to 14 million yuan (US$1.75 million) in 2005, the same amount is still needed."
(China Daily August 18, 2006)