Few Things You Shall Know About China

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

The new draft, which will come into effect on 1st January 2015, mostimportantly introduces a daily fine system much more expensive for thepolluter. In addition, production systems and facilities are subject tostricter rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. According to the Criminal Law of the PRC, if the environmental damage causesserious consequences to human health the responsible party faces a detentionperiod; the minimum length of imprisonment is 10 years; the maximum is morethan 30 years detention.

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

Authorized Public Associations will be allowed to represent citizens before thecourt against environmental danger or disaster, as well as in case of damagessuffered by population. While the new, harsher penalty system should help toavoid illicit conduct by companies, its impact on companies and civil societyas a whole are much more significant. Like the Advertisement Law and FoodSafety Law before it, citizens will play a fundamental role in monitoring theapplication of the new rules.

This article is intended solely for informational purposes anddoes not constitute legal advice. Although the information in this article wasobtained from reliable official sources, no guarantee is made with regard toits accuracy and completeness.