Few things you shall know about China Environmental Protection Challenge

Few things you shall know about China Environmental Protection Challenge

Published on September 6, 2014

One of the most challenging problems related to economic and industrial development in China is the pollution. China has recently become the biggest offending country. In 1989 the lawmaker introduced a unique fine for enterprises responsible of pollutant emissions but according to the public, this system was inefficient; after paying the fine the company would continue to pollute the environment.

The new draft, which will come into effect on 1st January 2015, most importantly introduces a daily fine system much more expensive for the polluter. In addition, production systems and facilities are subject to stricter rules.

1. According to present law, companies affecting the environment are subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The new law states they further need an environmental protection responsibility system; i.e. monitoring of pollutant emissions and filing of the results. At least one employee needs to be in charge of the environmental impact of the production process; they are directly responsible for any ecological damage and will face personal civil and/or criminal liability, e.g. they can be made subject to a detention of 5 to 15 days, depending upon the seriousness of the offence.

2. In order to identify potentially dangerous emissions a list of key pollutant thresholds was created. As a first step, enterprises must follow the control indicators of key pollutants’ total emissions allocated to their production field. Secondly, if said conditions are fulfilled, production following the national and local emission limits can begin.

3. Enterprises need a special license to discharge pollutants granted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

4. In case of disaster or illicit discharge, an emergency plan needs to be drafted before production commences.

5. If an enterprise refuses to adopt the necessary certifications or continues to illegally discharge pollutants, the administrative entity may apply an accumulative daily fine, calculated in consideration of operating costs of control facilities, pollution prevention systems, illegal gains or direct loss caused by the illicit conduit.

In case of emissions exceeding legal standards, the competent environmental protection administration can order to restrict production or emission, or to suspend production for correction; in the most serious cases, People’s Government shall be informed and it can order to suspend operations.

6. According to the Criminal Law of the PRC, if the environmental damage causes serious consequences to human health the responsible party faces a detention period; the minimum length of imprisonment is 10 years; the maximum is more than 30 years detention.

Enterprises will be responsible also for environmental damages according to the tort law of the PRC. Institutions that offer environmental services such as monitoring pollution, preventing illegal discharges or controlling equipment, will be jointly liable for any ecological damages that they have contributed to cause for negligence or fraud.

Authorized Public Associations will be allowed to represent citizens before the court against environmental danger or disaster, as well as in case of damages suffered by population. While the new, harsher penalty system should help to avoid illicit conduct by companies, its impact on companies and civil society as a whole are much more significant. Like the Advertisement Law and Food Safety Law before it, citizens will play a fundamental role in monitoring the application of the new rules.

This article is intended solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article was obtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard to its accuracy and completeness.

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