China has passed its toughest environmental protection regulations in 25 years.
The amended law sets “environmental protection as the country’s basic policy” and plans to punish polluters more severely.
The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) voted to toughen the rules, which hadn’t been changed since first enacted in 1989.
The new law includes harsher punishment for environmental wrongdoing, with people possibly facing up to 15 days in detention if their businesses “dodge environmental impact assessments and refuse to suspend production after being issued a ban”, NPC Standing Committee member Xin Chunying is quoted as saying.
It also contains specific articles and provisions on tackling smog, making the public more aware of environmental protection and protecting whistle-blowers.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, with reports raising concerns about the health effects as a result of increased pollution.
Zhang Dejiang, NPC Standing Committee Chairman said: “The new law says that economic and social development should be coordinated with environmental protection and it encourages studies on the impact environmental quality has on public health, urging prevention and control of pollution-related diseases.”
The changes are set to come into force in January 2015.