China will expand a pilot reform to nationwide starting next year, obliging polluters to repair the environment or pay a compensation.
The decision was contained in a document issued on December 17 by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.
By 2020, China aims to establish an efficient comprehensive damage compensation system to protect and improve the country's ecosystem.
Under the system, individuals or companies that cause environmental damage shall have to help restore the environment. If the damages are beyond restoration, they must pay for losses, a process that will be managed by local governments as non-tax revenue.
The system does not apply to marine ecological and environmental damages, which is governed by the marine environment protection law.
The reform has already been piloted in Jilin, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hunan, Chongqing, Guizhou and Yunnan, with notable progress made, according to the document.
Commenting on the decision, an official at the Ministry of Environmental Protection told Xinhua that conditions for legislation on ecological damage compensation were not ripe, but expanding the pilot scheme nationwide would help accumulate experiences for the legislative work.
The ministry will also work to develop an environmental damage assessment system and regulate the assessment procedures.
China has launched a series of campaigns to fight pollution and environmental degradation, as authorities rectify practices that boost economic growth at environmental cost.
Thousands of officials have been held accountable for environmental damage, following inspections by central authorities.
The country has reduced the use of coal by industries and households and taken bold moves to encourage the use of new energy as well as cleaner fuel energy such as natural gas.
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2017)