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Zhuhai introduces the China’s first local regulations for ecological development

Lifelong responsibility for damage to the ecological environment

Originally by: Deng Wei
First published: 2014-01-14 14:52:31

Recently, at its sixteenth meeting, the 18th General Assembly for the People's Congress Standing Committee of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province passed the "Regulations for Promoting Ecological Development in Zhuhai Special Economic Zone". It will take effect on March 1. The Third Plenary Session is the first to make relevant provisions into legislation for regulations on the "Unified Registration of Natural Resource Assets", "Implementation of an Off-Office Audit of Natural Resources for Leaders and Cadres", and "Establishment of a Lifelong Accountability and Liability System for Ecological Damages".

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. It mainly focuses on six aspects of a comprehensive plan, namely, major area management, ecological economy, ecological environment, ecological habitat, environmental culture, and protection measures. This will build a "trifecta" society that saves resources, is eco-friendly, and has a balanced population.

Yang Jinhua, the Deputy Director of the Zhuhai Municipal People's Congress introduced that over the years, Zhuhai has always stood firmly on the forefront of national ecological development. It has not walked the same development path as the Pearl River Delta and other cities. Its formation of environmental protection and ecological development carries unique advantages. "Against this backdrop, it gives full play to the legislative power of the special administrative region. In addition, it has formed a clear goal for its ecological development through legislation. It is essential to have a long-term adherence to the concepts and practices for protecting ecological development while having an implementation that is effective.

The Regulations reflect the exploration for creativity in the system. At the same time, it is unified and realistically showcases the distinguishing features of Zhuhai: First, it actively explores the establishment of a credit system for emissions reduction. The regulations clearly provide a "step-by-step establishment of a waste trade system, where waste units must maintain full control over the main 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.” Second, major decisions and project development must further increase scientific knowledge in order to actively ensure the ecological development of Zhuhai. The Regulations clearly stipulate that "the municipal government must establish a suitable environment committee that consists of experts from related subject fields, public representatives, and related department representatives. This committee will consider major decisions and projects, heed to experts and public opinions, and submit consideration and advice, made by the municipal government." Third, it clearly establishes a system to estimate the ecological influence of major projects. The regulations clearly provide the "establishment of a system to estimate the ecological influence of major projects." Pollutants and consumption of natural resources under projects that are scientifically assessed as well as projects that contain high energy consumption, severe environmental pollution, significant resource consumption while failing to comply with the industry policies are not introduced.

The Regulations are in accordance with the overall layout of the "Five in One" plan as well as the new implementation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's evaluation index system for establishing ecological development in demonstrative cities. In constructing the structural framework, with an exception to external "general rules" and “supplementary articles”, the regulations shall mainly consist of six areas, namely, "the major functions of area management", "ecological economy", "ecological environment", "ecological habitation", "ecological culture", and "protection measures". Based on this type of layout structure at the national level, the policies and systems reflect the requirements for ecological development, making it a first for China.

The Regulations define a set of conditions, objects, and methods for ecological compensation. In order to protect functional areas as a result of necessary relocation due to restrictive development zones and ecological development zones or enterprise-based entities or individuals that suffer damages against their economic interests, the local government will arrange resettlement or compensation; and the municipal and district governments will develop and implement a compensation policy system for transferring payments.

Source: People’s Daily
Senior Editor: Chen Xiujun

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