As with most of us hoping to elicit positive change with our New Year’s resolutions, the People’s Republic of China is following suit. As of January 1st, the global giant of industrial waste is administering a law on the number of pollutants that can be discharged directly into the environment.
The newly-passed law debuts an environmental protection tax to replace the existing discharge pollution fee. The tax will target enterprises and public institutions that release industrial pollutants directly into the environment. As such, companies will pay a tax proportional to their discharge for any listed solid waste, water, air, or noise pollutants. Additionally, tax levies will be available to those producers that reduce their emissions over the year, and use cleaner technology in the workplace. The ultimate goal of the tax is to encourage producers to make green choices, while impeding the deterioration of the local environment.
The previous “pollutant discharge fee” system had been in place since 1979, and local governments would exploit loopholes and exempt industrial companies who added to fiscal revenue. The conversion from a fee system to a tax law is meant to minimize governmental interference, to increase enterprises’ adoption of green technology, and to increase the cooperation between the tax and environmental authorities.
Despite China’s progressive stance toward being a sustainable nation, investing $360 billion into renewable energy between 2017 and 2020, its environment still suffers the harsh effects of pollution. The country faces serious issues with three eighths of Chinese citizens breathing air that would be rated “unhealthy” by US standards. Over 80% of water from wells in China are unfit for drinking due to contamination from industry and farming. Further yet, the country is struggling with increasing incidences of desertification and soil pollution. According to the Ministry of Health, the high prevalence of pollution has made cancer the leading cause of death in China in 2017.
The implementation of this new law is a reflection on the country’s budding interest in preserving environmental standards. The Asian superpower has been struggling with its ecological footprint for years, and the industrial waste tax is definitely a step in the right direction.
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