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China Pollution Report Spurs Green Taxes

Monday, February 15, 2010

Zhang Lijun, vice minister of environmental protection, told a news conference in Beijing that the environmental protection ministry was cooperating with tax officials and the finance ministry to work out a plan for an environmental-protection tax.

This was on the occasion of the publication of a pollution 'census', which took two years and 570,000 staffers to complete, including agricultural pollution for the first time.

"Because China's path to economic development has been different from that taken by developed nations, China may well pass the peak polluting levels and see marked improvement by the time our per capita income reaches the USD3,000 level," Zhang said. He also said that the survey put China ahead of other developing countries in having a map of who was polluting and where, which could be applied to a plan of action and incorporated in the the design of China's five-year plan from 2011 to 2015.

This was the best gloss that could be put on a rather dire picture of current pollution levels. Water pollution countrywide was found to be more than twice the earlier government estimates which had excluded agricultural pollution. The census was based on 2007 data and calculated that discharge of "chemical oxygen demand" (COD) in wastewater was 30.3m tonnes, with agricultural sources accounting for 43.7% of the total.

Altogether 5.93m pollution sources were examined, disclosing 49.15m tonnes of industrial solid waste and 39,400 tonnes of hazardous solid waste. More than 23.2 tonnes of sulfur dioxide, 17.98m tonnes of nitrogen oxide and 19.21m tons of dust were released into the atmosphere via exhaust gas in 2007.