New pollution law nears review stage

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 28, 2014
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China is one step closer to imposing the toughest ever penalties on air pollution, as a draft code on air pollution control is likely to be ready for lawmakers' review as soon as next month, experts said.

An executive meeting of the State Council, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, approved the draft amendment to the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law on Wednesday.

The draft emphasizes that emitters should play a major role in anti-pollution efforts and that the work should be done with the participation of all residents, according to a statement released after the meeting.

The draft code also proposes scrapping the ceiling for air pollution penalties and says that emitters who discharge air pollution beyond what is allowed and who refuse to correct their illegal activities will be subject to fines based on a consecutive daily rate.

Penalty calculations based on a daily rate will be imposed on repeat offenders who do not have a pollutant discharge permit or on construction companies that fail to prevent dust during projects.

Current regulations on air pollution stipulate that polluters are subject to a one-time penalty of up to 200,000 yuan ($32,580).

Cao Mingde, professor of environmental law at Chinese University of Political Science and Law, said the draft can be put under lawmakers' review as soon as next month at their bimonthly session.

While a draft bill usually takes three readings before being put to a vote, Cao said that "it is possible to be passed after two readings, since fighting air pollution has become so significant and the need for such a regulation is urgent."

He said that the lack of law enforcement power has encouraged air pollution, and that local officials have continued to pursue GDP growth at the expense of the environment.

Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Committee, said earlier this week that China will only be able to see "significant improvement" in air pollution control by 2030.

The Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law took effect in 2000, but it has not been revised since then. The draft includes regulations on industrial air pollution, construction dust and other stipulations that were not in the current law.

The State Council meeting also pledged to promote China's service trade, an area that usually refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transport, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accountancy.

A statement from the meeting said the government will issue a guideline to pick out key areas for priority development in the service trade industry, as well as set up an international platform to promote Chinese companies.

In the first 10 months of this year, China recorded a total service trade deficit of 824 billion yuan, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

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