Smoke billows from a factory in Dezhou, Shandong province. [File photo/Provided to China Daily]
China’s top economic planner announced on Sept 5 it would double charges for pollutant disposal in the latest move against pollution.
Charges on pollutants in sewage and exhaust gas disposal will be set at no less than 1.4 yuan (23 cents) and 1.2 yuan per pollution equivalent, respectively, according to a notice jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Currently, the rates are 0.7 yuan and 0.6 yuan. The notice requires local authorities to properly adopt the change before the end of June 2015.
Thermal power, steel, cement and papermaking industries will be most affected by the policy, analysts said.
In the meantime, the government will encourage highly polluted and developed regions to formulate higher standards for such charges.
“Regions should set up differentiated charging mechanisms to impose higher standards on enterprises that have surpassed the emission limit, while adopting lower standards on businesses with better pollution-treatment efforts,” read the notice.
Wang Jinnan, an official with the environment ministry, said the new standard will bring the charges closer to the actual cost of pollution treatment.
China started charging for pollutant disposal in 2003, but the low fees created little incentive for companies to cut emissions.
The latest move came as China intensifies efforts to improve its deteriorating environment, which has been a growing source of public complaints.
At the annual session of the National People’s Congress in March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang “declared war” against pollution and pledged to fight it with the same determination the country battled poverty.