China pollution

Chinese firms with good environmental records to be exempted from output curbs

Beijing has promised to put an end to its ‘one size fits all’ approach to environmental compliance

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 1:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 10:27pm

Authorities in northern China’s Hebei province, the country’s smoggiest, will exempt environmental “pace setters” from output curbs as part of a new plan aimed at providing more incentives for local firms to cut pollution, local media said on Thursday.

Hebei, which produces about a quarter of China’s steel, has been on the front line of the country’s four-year campaign to reduce pollution, with authorities anxious to prevent its heavy smog from drifting into neighbouring Beijing.

Cities throughout Hebei were part of a punishing winter campaign that forced all companies in major industries like steel to cut production when air quality declined, but firms complained they were being punished whether they had complied with state pollution standards or not.

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China has since promised to put an end to a “one size fits all” approach to environmental compliance and aims to devise more nuanced environmental policies that will minimise economic disruption.

In the first phase of Hebei’s new “pace setter” scheme, three to five leading companies from industrial sectors like steel, cement, glassmaking, coking and waste-to-energy will now be given preferential treatment, Yanzhao Metropolis Daily reported.

According to “implementation guidelines” published earlier this month on the website of the Hebei environmental protection bureau, the plan will encourage firms to cut pollution and carbon emissions, upgrade technology and improve efficiency.

“Firms that have obtained ‘pace setter’ status … do not need to be included in output restriction lists,” the document said, adding that they would also be entitled to “targeted assistance” from local authorities.

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Third-party assessors will select firms that have imposed stricter than necessary emissions standards or implemented a “green supply chain” system, as well as those that have relatively low levels of coal and water consumption.

The list will be refreshed every two years, but “pace setters” found to have exceeded emissions standards or violated other environmental rules would have their status revoked, the document said.