Errant officials to be penalized for pollution
Updated: 2015-05-07 07:43
By Zheng Jinran(China Daily)
Government officials found responsible for environmental pollution will be held accountable beyond their terms of office, according to a new national guideline.
The guideline on eco-civilization development, released on Tuesday, includes punishments - including restrictions on promotion - and is the first overall road map in this field.
It lists 10 major factors, including a strict reduction of sources of pollutants, restrictions on emissions, compensation for losses and investigations into responsibility in cases of pollution.
The guideline states that government officials' environmental protection performance will have a greater impact on their annual assessments, which are related closely to promotion prospects.
Those held responsible for pollution will be affected beyond their terms of office, barring them from being promoted or working in leading positions for a year.
Dimitri de Boer, team leader of the EU-China Environmental Governance Program, a European Union-funded program, said, "This sends a very strong signal to officials - they must be very careful when they make decisions concerning the environment."
He said the new guideline could steer the government and Party officials toward a healthier environment and ecosystem, and away from the previous focus on economic development.
Additionally, the ongoing improvements in public participation and judicial reforms will help to ensure that such punishments are applied in a fair and consistent manner, he added.
Chang Jiwen, a researcher of environmental policies at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said governments at provincial and city level should release detailed regulations under the guideline to ensure implementation of this strict accountability system.
Many provinces and cities have already acted to widen the scope of assessments of officials' environmental protection performance.
For example, this now accounts for 20 percent of the annual performance assessment for officials in Hebei province. The Guangdong provincial government had barred officials found responsible for environmental pollution from promotion for at least a year.
The 35-clause guideline states that China has encountered significant problems, such as limited resources and severe pollution becoming a major obstacle to sustainable growth.
It calls for more consideration to be given to environmental protection when planning economic and social development, and for more efforts to raise public awareness about the environment.