China toughens environment law to target polluters

Apr 24, 2014
A Chinese tourist wears a face mask in Tiananmen Square as heavy air pollution shrouds Beijing on February 26, 2014

China on Thursday passed the first amendment to its environment protection law in 25 years, imposing tougher penalties on polluters after the government called for a "war" on pollution.

The changes approved by the standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's rubberstamp parliament, take effect on January 1, 2015 and come amid growing public discontent over pollution.

The revised law imposes "harsher punishments (for) environmental wrongdoing, and has specific articles and provisions on tackling smog, making citizen's more aware of and protecting whistleblowers", the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The law also stipulates up to 15 days' detention for officials in enterprises that, among other violations, avoid "environmental impact assessments and refuse to suspend production after being issued a ban", Xinhua said.

"The new law stipulates that enterprises will be named and shamed for breaking environmental protection laws," it said.

China's decades-long economic boom has brought rising , with large parts of the country repeatedly blanketed in thick smog and both waterways and land polluted.

Pollution has emerged as a driver of discontent with the government, sparking occasional protests.

Xinhua said the amendment marked "the first change to the legislation in 25 years".

The amendment approved Thursday—which also called on citizens to adopt a "low-carbon and frugal lifestyle"—came after Premier Li Keqiang last month vowed to declare a "war" against pollution.

Sixty percent of underground water in China which is officially monitored is too polluted to drink directly, according to state media, underlining the country's grave environmental problems.

China's environment ministry recently estimated that 16 percent of the country's land area was polluted, with nearly one fifth of farmland tainted by inorganic elements such as cadmium.

Air quality was below national standards in almost all China's major cities last year, a top environment official said last month, with only three out of the 74 cities monitored by the government meeting a new air quality standard.

Explore further: Shell agrees to start clean up of 2008 Niger Delta oil spill

Related Stories

60% of China underground water polluted: report

Apr 23, 2014

Sixty percent of underground water in China which is officially monitored is too polluted to drink directly, state media have reported, underlining the country's grave environmental problems.

China says massive area of its soil polluted

Apr 17, 2014

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Japan's Panasonic to give China expats 'pollution pay'

Mar 13, 2014

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic said Thursday it would give employees sent to China a wage premium to compensate for the country's hazardous air pollution, in a possible first for an international company.

Air purifier rush as smog shrouds northern China

Feb 24, 2014

Dangerous smog which has blighted swathes of northern China in recent days has prompted a spike in air purifier sales, local media reported Monday, as pollution continued to shroud Beijing.

Recommended for you

Japan eyeing 26% greenhouse gas cut: officials

May 01, 2015

Japan is planning to pledge a 26 percent cut in its greenhouse gas emissions from 2013 levels, ahead of a global summit on climate change this year, officials said Friday.

Unforeseen dangers in a global food system

May 01, 2015

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim during a recent blizzard that food delivery bikes were not emergency vehicles caused a small disruption in the City's normally fast, abundant and inexpensive access ...

Emissions from natural gas wells may travel far downwind

May 01, 2015

Emissions linked to hydraulic fracturing, the method of drilling for natural gas commonly known as "fracking," can be detected hundreds of miles away in states that that forbid or strictly control the practice, ...

Research helps tackle mine tailings disasters

May 01, 2015

Research and technology transfer activities at The University of Western Australia are helping address a persistent and serious problem facing the mining industry worldwide.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.