The issuance of pollution emission permits will be delayed, as more time is needed to gauge public opinion, an official with the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on July 3.
"There is no timetable for issuance of the permits," the official, who refused to be named, told China Daily. He denied media reports the permits would be issued at the end of the year.
Twenty-first Century Business Herald yesterday quoted a source also from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, as saying "the pollution emission permits will be officially released at the end of this year, or next year, by the State Council".
The ministry official, however, said: "We definitely need more time to make public the legislative procedures."
Pollution emission permits are being introduced to control the total amount of pollutants discharged. Currently, only the concentration of a pollutant is monitored.
"Polluters should make preparations for treatment facilities. The permits are an indication of the country's resolve to introduce increasingly strict standards to protect the environment," Xia Guang, director of the ministry's policy research center, said.
"Currently, we only monitor the toxic level of pollutants and not the quantity discharged, putting a strain on natural purification," Xia said.
Taihu Lake is an example. The lake suffered an outbreak of algae last summer caused by excessive pollutants.
Even if industrial plants near the lake had adhered to the strict emission standards, the amount of discharge was more than the lake could handle.
A pilot program of issuing pollution emission permits has been carried in the lake area, Xia said.
The permits allow emission trading, and this has proved be an effective measure to reduce pollution, he said.
However, promotion of the permits nationwide will face difficulties, he said.
The permits will meet opposition from industries and local governments, Xia said.
"Strict requirements in emission reduction will add to the costs of industries, such as the installation of waste treatment facilities," he said.
Another problem will be the calculation of how much pollution an area can receive, and how to optimize the allocation of emission credits to individual plants, he said.
(China Daily July 5, 2008)