News Risk Management21 Mar 2018

China:New ministry of ecological environment takes environmental protection to greater heights

21 Mar 2018

China will establish a ministry of ecological environment to enhance environmental protection. Its wide-ranging remit will cover river, marine and soil pollution as well as climate change, reported Reuters.

The new ministry is a transformation of the current Ministry of Environmental Protection, which will be dismantled. It will absorb responsibilities formerly under the land, water and agriculture ministries, the State Oceanic Administration and the National Development and Reform Commission’s responsibilities on tackling climate change and emission reduction, according to a reform plan submitted to the national legislature for deliberation last week.

Some of the new ministry’s duties include the compiling and implementation of China's ecological environment policies, plans and standards, as well as ecological environment monitoring and law enforcement. It will also regulate pollution control and nuclear and radiation safety, and organise inspections of central authorities on environmental protection.

Head of the new ministry, Mr Li Ganjie warned on Monday about the continuing challenges in the prolonged battle against pollution and expressed concerns about tight natural gas supplies, reported Reuters.

“We are making a three-year plan to win the battle for blue skies. The detailed plan is under work, but in principal we want to control pollution in key areas and from heavy industries,” he said during a National People’s Congress session.

He emphasised the ministry’s goal to reduce the supply glut in heavy industries and shift commodities transportation from using trucks to using railroads and noted that natural gas supplies will be tight in future as the country continues to encourage consumers to switch from coal to gas for heating.

China will set more stringent targets for improving the nation’s air quality under a new three-year plan, with the new targets for concentrations of small, breathable particles known as PM2.5 lower than those in the country’s current five-year plan that is due to end in 2020, said Mr Li.

He added that the government will establish a nationwide inspection system, which will place the onus for regular checks on on polluting companies and factories to local authorities, in addition to central government, he said. The government will also punish local authorities who do not enforce the regulations correctly.

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