A revamped pollutant discharge policy has been released that requires all stationary sources of pollution in China to be licensed by 2020, to further curb emissions, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.
It comes as China’s environmental management policies have not been fully implemented, and are failing to curb pollution efficiently, thus requiring the action plan, according to a statement from the State Council, which released the plan on Nov 21.
“The pollutants discharged from companies have become one of the major sources of pollution, thus it’s vital to reduce the total emissions by cutting their discharge,” said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection.
Some companies have discharged pollutants excessively or through illegal pipelines, leading to environment deterioration in some regions, Chen said.
The revised discharging policy will give companies a pollutant discharge permit, which covers specifics such as the variety of pollutants, concentration, and amounts allowed. Those which violate the restrictions will face stricter penalties ranging from suspension of operations to criminal charges, according to the plan.
All companies should apply for the license before undertaking industrial production, allowing the authorities to monitor pollution in advance.
“The new license will be the only administrative permission for companies to discharge pollutants,” said Wang Jian, deputy head of the department in charge of air pollution control under the ministry, adding without the license, the companies are forbidden to discharge pollutants.
The policy will come into force by the end of 2016 in thermal power plants and papermaking companies, and then expand to cover 15 major industries which discharge air and water pollutants by 2017.
By 2020, all companies discharging pollutants will be covered, according to the schedule.
Wang, the deputy head, said the discharge permit had proven effective in reducing pollution in the United States, adding that the US has seen sulfur dioxide emissions reduced to 4.69 million metric tons in 2013, from 28.32 million tons in 1970.
“But currently, we face some problems in implementing the policies, lowering the performance in fighting pollution,” he said.
Since the 1980s, 27 provinces have released policies concerning pollutant discharge licenses, covering over 240,000 companies, Wang said.
But they have not adopted a unified standard for emissions, and the pollutants included in these licenses are not wide-ranging enough, rendering them ineffective in reducing air pollution, the ministry said.
The revised policy will set unified standards on emissions for the targeted industries across the country and cover as many pollutants as necessary.
Moreover, the environmental inspection force can focus on reviewing the license since it will cover more aspects about pollution instead of checking many documents in various fields, Wang said.
Environmental protection agencies will verify and issue the licenses, which will cover three years at first and then five years after renewal, and stricter sanctions will be enforced should businesses exceed their limits.
In addition, an information platform to be established by 2017 will manage licenses, applications, verification and supervision, which will be made public and enable enterprises and law enforcers to share information.
“The license will become the core policy for a series of efforts in controlling pollution from companies,” Wang said.