Beijing toughens pollution rules for cleaner air

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 2, 2013
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In order to clean up the city's air, the Beijing municipal government also rolled out measures to curb industrial pollution.

According to the action plan, 1,200 polluting companies will be ordered to upgrade or close parts or all of their facilities in the years to 2016.

Authorities will identify polluters in township- and village-level industrial zones and shut them down if they fail to meet pollution reduction targets, said the plan.

The total amount of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dust and volatile organic compound emissions will be a prerequisite of environmental impact assessments for any new projects starting this year.

In regions or industries that fail to meet air pollution reduction targets, no new projects that emit major air pollutants will be given regulatory approval as of 2013.

The local government will push forward water and electricity pricing reforms to raise prices for big water and power users to drive them to upgrade or shut down their polluting, energy-guzzling facilities as early as 2014.

The authorities will also increase discharge fees for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions this year and levy a new fee for discharge of volatile organic compounds next year. It will start a pilot emissions trading scheme for major polluters in 2014.

Companies that break environmental laws will be blocked from receiving bank loans, fund-raising through initial public offerings and value-added tax breaks starting this year, under the plan.

The action plan has set a tough target that needs involvement and concerted efforts from many departments, said Yu Jianhua, the air and environment director with the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, which is also one of the main composers of the plan.

More than 50 government officials as well as company executives have been made responsible for the implementation of the measures, according to Yu.

He said the measures, while improving the capital's air quality, will also help promote the upgrading of its industrial structure and optimize its economic development mode.

"In the meantime, the environmental protection awareness of the public will be dramatically uplifted," he added.

Yu, however, noted that neighboring provinces and municipalities will also need to intensify their efforts to curb pollution.

Beijing is surrounded by heavy-chemical industrial bases featuring iron and steal, building material, thermal power, and cement, that contribute significantly to the capital city's air pollution.

"Beijing's air quality improvement will be realized only if the overall environment at regional level is improved," Yu said.




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