China

CN-7:Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law (Revision)

Policy Description

China adopted the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law in 1987 and revised it in 1995 and 2000. The law is formulated to prevent air pollution, protect and improve the environment, protect public health, and promote economical and social sustainable development. In response to the urgent air pollution issue in China, on September 9, 2014, the Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council released the first draft of the revisions to the national Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law and sought comments on revisions of the draft Law between September 9 and October 8, 2014. The highly anticipated law revision aims to improve the current law by providing specific details and mechanisms for enforcement.  

Description

China adopted the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law in 1987 and revised it in 1995 and 2000. The law is formulated to prevent air pollution, protect and improve the environment, protect public health, and promote economical and social sustainable development. In response to the urgent air pollution issue in China, on September 9, 2014, the Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council released the first draft of the revisions to the national Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law sought public comments on revisions of the draft Law between September 9 and October 8, 2014. The highly anticipated law revision aims at improving the current law by providing specific details and mechanisms for enforcement. 

The key principles of the draft Law as outlined in the draft include:  

  • Source-control and co-control of multiple air pollutants through planning, clear standards, and strengthened environmental protection requirements for construction projects and emitters; and the approach shall be shifted from single-pollutant control to control of multiple pollutants; from localized management of air pollution to regional network-based air pollution prevention and control. Key air pollutants include fine particulate matter, respirable particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides. The new drafted law proposed the shift from focusing individual pollutants to co-control of multiple air pollutants, and from individual areas where the air pollution are generated to regional management.
  • Comprehensive policies with key focuses by using a combination of economical, legal, technological, and necessary administrative measures focusing on key areas such as coal combustion, motor vehicles, dust-blowing activities.
  • Strengthened responsibility and strict management by emphasizing environmental protection responsibilities of governments and enterprises and environmental protection obligations of citizens. In addition, legal responsibilities should be strengthened, through increasing the penalties for violations.
  • Focusing on current situation and consider future impacts, including actively responding to social awareness on this topic, establishing heavy air pollution weather alerts and mitigation mechanisms, guiding energy and industrial structural adjustment, improving product quality, phasing out obsolete capacities, and establishing a long-term mechanism to prevent and control air pollution.

The content of the draft Law has eight chapters and 102 articles, including six key topics:

  • Clearly identify environmental protection responsibilities of the governments. The draft Law requires the local government (above the county level) to incorporate air pollution prevention and control into its economic and social development planning, provide fiscal investment, and local officials shall be evaluated based on the performance of achieving environmental protection targets. The results will be published to the public.
  • Improve total emission control system and emission permit system. The draft Law requires provincial governments to disaggregate the total reduction and control targets of air pollution prevention, which are from the requirements of the State Council to provinces, to local cities and counties. Local cities and counties shall then allocate the targets to emitters. For areas that exceed total control targets, approvals on new constructions shall be suspended. A new permit system, based on the current pollution reporting system, shall be linked with environmental impact evaluation, total cap control, and target achievements.
  • Strengthen air pollution prevention and control in key areas (the draft new law added industrial and dust blowing air pollution and prevention sections). Chapter Four of the draft Law focuses on air pollution prevention and control in coal combustion, motor vehicles, industry, and dust blowing activities. In the coal combustion area, the draft Law specifies that the national government should establish a medium-long term control target of total coal consumption and to gradually reduce the share of coal use in primary energy consumption. It further requires key regions/areas to strictly control total coal consumption and gradually reduce total emissions of air pollutants. Local governments of key regions/areas are to establish specific plans to control total coal consumption and to gradually reduce total coal consumption. Coal-use projects (including newly built, expansion of existing projects, and reconstruction of existing projects) shall obtain control quotas of total coal consumption. In terms of motor vehicles, the draft Law encourages public transportation, fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, monitoring on oil products, and recalling systems based on environmental performance. The draft Law also grants local governments at the country level or above to designate areas that disallow high-polluted vehicles. In industry, the draft Law requires industrial processes that emit air pollutants (such as in the iron and steel, building materials, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicals, and coal chemicals industries) to be equipped with corresponding pollution control devices to reduce dust, SOx and NOx related emissions or to adopt other pollution control measures, such as proper maintenance, collective collecting of dust, reducing leakage, and proper treatment of combustible gases.
  • Focus on key regions of air pollution prevention and control (this is a newly added section under the draft new law). These key regions will be designated by the State Council and will establish multiple-source control targets, propose key tasks and measures, strengthen environmental protection standards, and implement coal consumption reduction (or fuel switching).
  • Establish heavy pollution weather alerts systems (newly added section). Provincial governments shall discuss with its environmental protection agencies and meteorological departments, establish alert systems (with multiple levels), and send alerts appropriately. Based on the alerts, county-level governments shall activate the emergency response system timely, implement measures such as shutting down/limiting industrial operation and limiting motor vehicle transportation.
  • Improve legal responsibility and increase the strength of penalties. The draft Law strengthens the responsibilities of local governments, departments, and officials. It also increases the level of penalties for violations. The draft Law specifies that the penalties can include confiscating illegal revenues, fines, revocation of licenses, orders to stop operation for retrofitting, order to suspend businesses or close down businesses. Corresponding civil and criminal liabilities are also specified in the draft Law. 

Policy Information Expand this section for information on the key features of the policy, such as its date of introduction, categorization, main objective(s) and linkages with other policies.

Policy Categorisation

Policy Instrument Type: Administrative

Position in the Pyramid

About Us

Participation: Mandatory

Policy Linkages

Supported By Energy and Carbon Intensity Targets of the 12th Five Year Plan Effort Defining
Supported By Small Plant Closures and Phasing Out of Outdated Capacity Effort Defining
Supported By Carbon Emissions Trading Pilots Supporting Measure

Agencies Responsible

State Council
Former State Environmental Protection Agency (Now the Ministry of Environment Protection)
Local, Provincial, Central governments

Primary Objective: Other (environmental)

Objective

The law is formulated to prevent air pollution, protect and improve the environment, protect public health, and promote economical and social sustainable development.

Target Group

• Provincial and local governments • Environmental protection agencies • Coal combustion units

Driver of energy consumption or emissions affected by policy: Total emissions, air pollution control

Implementation Information Expand this section for information on targets, monitoring, verification and enforcement regimes, and implementation requirements and tools.

Coverage

see Target Group

Quantitative Target? no

Progress Monitored? yes

Monitoring Done By

Organisation Type Organisation Name
Government Agency Local, Provincial, Central governments

Verification Required? yes

Verification Done By

Organisation Type Organisation Name
Government Agency Local, Provincial, Central governments

Enforced? yes

Sanctions: Yes, including penalties and legal compliance requirements

Requirements on the Target Group

See full descirption 

Support by Government

Implementation Toolbox

Impacts, Costs & Benefits Expand this section to find information on policy effectiveness and efficiency.

Impact Quantitative Estimate Qualitative Estimate
Estimated effect on energy consumption or emissions
Estimated costs/benefits for industry
Estimated cost for government

References & Footnotes

References

[1] Natural Resources Defence Council. 2014. “Cleaning China's Smoggy Skies: China Released Draft Air Pollution Law Amendments for Public Comment”. September. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bfinamore/cleaning_chinas_smoggy_skies_c.html

[2] Legislative Affairs Office of China’s State Council. 2014. “Notice on Issuing the Draft Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law (Revisions and Calling for Public Comments)”. September 9. http://www.chinalaw.gov.cn/article/cazjgg/201409/20140900396925.shtml