Polluters may have power, water cut

China plans to significantly increase charges on the release of pollutants and effluents, and may consider combining the charges with utility bills, according to Bi Jingquan, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. Under such a scheme, companies that do not pay the fees would not be allowed to use electricity and water supplies.

The move is to push companies to clean up the environment more actively by imposing greater share of the financial burden, Bi said.

The discharge cost for sewerage will be at least double today’s level of RMB0.67 (US$0.088) per ton, while the charge on sulfur dioxide emissions may also be doubled from 0.63 yuan per ton, Bi told a forum held by the new China Center for Public Finance, at Peking University.

“There is a desperate need for the country to instill the principle that those creating pollution must pay the costs,” he said.

“In the first half of this year, we have not met the set goal (for energy consumption),” Bi said. “The release of major pollutants has also not significantly declined.”

Bi suggested a market mechanism based reform of the environmental clean-up regime. In some places, he said, newly established waste burning facilities cannot find adequate waste for treatment, because the local environmental protection department encourages the waste to be transported to landfills that belong to the government.

Bi also called for a strengthened collection of fees, which is rather loose at present.

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