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Zhuhai introduces laws and regulations: Officials held liable for ecological damages for life

Originally by: Chen Zhijia and Wang Yalu
First published: 2014-01-09 15:24:52

After the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Zhuhai introduced the first local laws and regulations on ecological development in China. It takes effect on March 1.

Officials will be held responsible for ecological damages

On a one-sided pursuit of the GDP and "governmental achievements", economic development is realized; however, the environment is damaged, and the leaders are promoted. This situation in Zhuhai may disappear soon. The Zhuhai Municipal People's Congress announced yesterday that its People's Congress recently approved the "Regulations for Promoting Ecological Development in Zhuhai Special Economic Zone" (hereinafter referred to as the “Regulations”). According to the Regulations, an off-office audit of natural resources will be conducted for leaders and cadres when they are no longer in office, thus establishing lifelong accountability for ecological damage. The Regulations in the legislation also provide for an emissions trading system, creating markets for environmental protection.

Following the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Regulations are the first local laws and regulations on ecological development in China and will be officially implemented on March 1 of this year.

The off-office audit of natural resources for off-office leaders

For the first time in legislation, the Regulations provide that the prime person in charge for the competent unit will not be annually assessed as excellent or competent if that person fails to comply with the restrictions for ecological development. A balance sheet on natural resources shall be established and prepared on a phase-to-phase basis. Leaders and cadres shall implement an off-office audit system for natural resource assets and establish lifelong accountability for ecological damage.

In accordance with the Regulations, Zhuhai Municipal Government will determine the total control indicators of major pollutants in its districts. All district-specific governments are responsible for formulating control indicators at the district level, and will implement total control indicators of decomposition for major pollutants in sewage units in the respective districts.

Wang Zhibin, the director of the NPC Legal Work Committee in Zhuhai, introduced the Regulations for the first time into legislation, which defines an emissions trading system, and clearly states "Waste units must maintain total control over major pollutants. If the units achieve more than the regulated reduction threshold, the difference is subject to the review and approval of the municipal environmental protection agency before it may be legally transferred.”

Not dealing with the pollution

Compensating the treatment cost paid by a third-party

One highlight of the Regulations is the introduction of a third-party treatment measure for environmental pollution. The Regulations provide that environmental areas that suffer pollution or destruction shall require the persons in charge of pollution treatment to implement environmental treatment and restoration. The environmental protection agencies will appoint another third party that is competent in pollution treatment and restoration to implement the treatment through public tender, and the resulting costs will be borne by the person in charge of pollution treatment who fails to comply with the implementation requirements.

Establish a suitable environment committee

Consideration of ecological effects for major projects

The Regulations establish an impact assessment system for major ecological projects. It simply states that Zhuhai Municipal People's Government consists of a suitable environment committee, including experts of related subject fields, public representatives, and related department representatives, to consider major decisions and projects, heed to experts and public opinions, and submit consideration and advice made by the Municipal People's Government in order to establish a livable environment.

Background information:

The 18th Meeting of the Third Plenary Session proposed the "Decision by the CPC Central Committee to Thoroughly Deepen Reform of Major Issues" in order to protect the ecological environment, which requires the development of an ecological civilization and establishes a systematically complete ecological civilization system. In addition, it implements the most stringent source protection system, damage compensation system, and accountability system while improving environmental management and ecological restoration with such systems. By exploring the possible preparation of balance sheets on natural resources, leaders and cadres are required to go through an off-office audit of natural resource assets. This establishes lifelong accountability and liability of ecological damage.

Source: Xinhua-Guangzhou Daily
Editor: Chen Xiujun

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