China’s Environmental Law Just Got Better … On Paper
|May 29, 2014||Posted by Staff under Environmental|
This 2014 excerpt of South China Morning Post, Apr 26, is by their editors.
Law-enforcement bodies are likely to ignore violations if polluters have the right connections. When they do prosecute, fines are capped at a level that is an acceptable cost against gains to be made.
Those caps on penalties are lifted in a sweeping revision passed this week. The amendments, effective on 2015 January 1, are a legal landmark in Beijing’s declared war on pollution and follow a pledge to abandon a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of China’s water, air, and soil.
Toxic, heavy metals contaminate 16.1 per cent of China’s soil and 19.1 per cent of arable land.
The new rules:
- introduce an ecological “red line” that will declare certain regions off limits to polluting industries,
- loosened a ban on most environmental non-government organisations filing lawsuits against polluters,
- ensure that information on environmental monitoring and impact assessments are made public,
- formalise a system for assessing local officials on their environmental record, and
- give the Ministry for Environmental Protection the authority to take stronger punitive action, such as shutting down persistent or serious polluters and confiscating their assets.
That said, the key still lies in effective enforcement, amid fears that it will still be patchy, and in respect for the environment ministry’s new powers, which need unequivocal backing from the highest level.
Ed. Notes: Keep your fingers crossed. This sure looks good on paper. It’d be fantastic if the nation that leads the world in growth could also lead the world in sustainability.