In an effort to curb pollution, China began drafting a new law that would save energy and reduce emissions. Where most Chinese cities are often wrapped in a toxic gray shroud, the issue has become more urgent as China prepares to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The China Daily newspaper reports that the drafted amendment to China’s old water pollution law would remove a 1 million yuan ($132,000) cap on fines for water polluters and allow penalties of 20 to 30 percent of the direct economic losses caused by a spill or pollution. The law also stipulates that governments at all levels should control energy use and emissions, strengthen management of resource-intensive companies and divert capital into environmentally-friendly industries.
The New York Times has examined the human toll, global impact and political challenge of China’s epic pollution crisis, naming it “Choking on Growth.” China’s speedy rise as an economic power has given rise to its unparalleled pollution problem. China’s success and growth derives from the expansion of heavy industry and urbanization that requires colossal inputs of energy, almost all from coal, the most readily available, and dirtiest, source.
The Ministry of Heath says pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death. Nearly 500- million people lack access to safe drinking water. Furthermore, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides spewed by China’s coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain on Seoul and Tokyo, and much of the particulate pollution over Los Angeles originates in China.
China’s leaders recognize that they must embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment. As Wang Jinnan, one of China’s leading environmental researchers says: “It is a very awkward situation for the country because our greatest achievement is also our biggest burden.”
For more information, please see: