The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, has voted to adopt revisions to the Environmental Protection Law. The move brings the first changes to the country’s environmental law in 25 years. The highly anticipated new law has aroused public interest and discussions among Chinese scholars and industry experts.
It’s being hailed as the country’ toughest environmental protection law.
For the first time, the law has established clear requirements for protecting the environment. Heavier punishments for damaging the environment is an important principle of the new legislation, and will hopefully deter companies from violating the law.
“One of the highlights of the new law is that it toughens penalties for environmental offences. And it has specific articles and provisions for tackling smog, raising public awareness, and protecting whistleblowers.” Tong Weidong, Deputy Director of Law Committee, NPC Standing Committee said.
The new law stipulates that companies will be publicly exposed for breaking environmental protection laws. It stipulates that those responsible could face up to 15 days detention if their companies ignore calls to suspend production after being issued a ban. Hu Jianmin, Vice President of Huaneng Group thinks the biggest challenge for his company is not obeying the new law but in making green techonologies more cost-effective.
“Though considered the toughest environmental protection law, I don’t think the new law will have a tremendous impact on us. Besides, the new emission standard issued last year is even stricter. We have invested more than ten billion yuan in green technology and we are still finding the right balance between the cost and profit.” Hu Jianmin, Vice President of China Huanneng Group said.
The new law also has stricter punishments for companies that ignore warnings and continue to pollute.
Companies will now face fines that accumulate daily, instead of being issued a one-time penalty.
The new law has provided a powerful tool for authorities to take stronger punitive actions against polluters and to ensure that there is more transpareny when it comes environmental monitoring and impact assessments. Experts say that the real challenge lies in ensuring that the new law is implemented in full and in a consistent manner.