China's environmental departments and polluters will have to
publicize information regarding environmental degradation and
pollution, according to a draft measure issued by the country's
environment watchdog on Wednesday.
"Environmental departments at all levels are required to make
public 17 categories of environmental information including laws,
regulations, policies and standards regarding environmental
protection," said the draft issued by the State Environmental
Protection Administration (SEPA).
The measure, which does not become effective until May 1,
2008,comes shortly after the release of a decree on Tuesday by the
State Council to boost official transparency by ordering government
departments to be more open in reporting information.
Companies or factories exceeding pollution levels and whose
facilities are not up to environmental standards will have to
report this information, it says.
The draft measure asks governments to release environmental
information within 20 working days and in a way that ensures the
majority of the public have access to it. They must reply to any
request for information from a member of public within 15 days.
"Polluting companies have to publish information concerning the
discharge of main pollutants in local media within 30 days after
local environmental departments draw up company blacklists," the
The number of pollution-related lawsuits is rising by about 30
percent every year and the environment is one of the main factors
triggering social conflicts.
Pan Yue, vice director of the SEPA, said China's current
environmental regulations lack specific terms on "information
transparency", which prevents the public from participating in
"The public's right to know, to participate and to supervise
should be fully considered in environmental protection. Massive
public participation is needed," Pan said.
"People should participate more than planting trees or cleaning
rubbish. They should join the policy-making," he said, adding that
this could only happen if relevant departments and enterprises
published their environmental information.
Since February last year, SEPA called a halt to 43 projects with
a total investment of 160 billion yuan (US$20.5 billion) because
the public was dissatisfied with the impact of the projects on the
(Xinhua News Agency April 26, 2007)