CHINA DRAFTS NEW LAW TO FIGHT AIR POLLUTION
China plans tougher pollution limits and heavier penalties in a revision of its air pollution law, state-run news agency Xinhua said, as the government battles to reduce smog that takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is considering a draft that would impose fines of up to 1 million yuan ($160,000) or even shut down factories that exceed emission limits, Xinhua reported last Monday. China's current law came into force in 1987, and despite a 2000 revision has not been updated to address the nation's recent rapid economic growth, which has left major urban centers choked by smog. A first draft of the new law was released by the State Council, China's cabinet, in September. The revised law would set stricter standards for China's 264 million vehicles as well as for the coal industry and heavy-polluting manufacturing. It would also include an early-warning system and contingency procedures for when pollution spikes in particularly affected areas, such as in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region, which in the third quarter of 2014 suffered from pollution 45% of the time, Xinhua said. Some of the measures outlined in the draft have already been put into place, although environmental policies are difficult to implement in China, partly because local agencies often lack the authority to penalize powerful state-owned companies. A new environmental protection law will enter into force on January 1, giving more power to environmental authorities to enforce pollution laws. For the full story, see http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/12/23/china-environment-idINKBN0K105L20141223.