China Takes On Pollution With Biggest Changes in 25 Years
BEIJING (Bloomberg News) – China’s legislature passed the biggest changes to its environmental protection laws in 25 years, punishing polluters more severely as the government works to limit smog and contaminated water and soil linked to three decades of economic growth.
Amendments to the law “sets environmental protection as the country’s basic policy,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. The rules hadn’t been changed since first enacted in 1989 as China began consuming more energy as the most-populous country grew into a global manufacturing hub.
Now the world’s biggest carbon emitter, China has moved to address the environmental damage that has been a byproduct of its breakneck economic growth and become a leading cause of social unrest. Government reports and recent comments from top officials about pollution have revealed the extent of the damage and health issues related to China’s soil, water, and air.
The amendments give the public and government “powerful new tools” to cut pollution, Barbara Finamore, senior attorney and Asia director at the Natural Resources and Defense Council in New York, said in an interview. “The pollution is now impossible to ignore,” she said. “This is very big news.”