August 31, 2018 / 8:10 AM / a year ago

China to speed up efforts to create water, power pricing system: ministry

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will speed up efforts to create an environmentally friendly pricing system to encourage the conservation of water and power and create incentives for waste disposal, the environment ministry said on Friday.

China is in the fifth year of a “war on pollution” aimed at reversing the environmental damage done by nearly four decades of unchecked economic growth.

But after a series of punishing national crackdowns on polluters, the government is trying to establish a system of incentives aimed at “normalizing compliance” among enterprises and local governments.

In a release issued ahead of a press briefing, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) said local environmental bureaus were working with government pricing departments to establish new mechanisms for solid waste collection and sewage treatment as well as water and electricity.

It said it would also make efforts to establish a new subsidy and credit support system for companies deemed to be front runners in the field of environmental protection. It said it would also work with tax authorities to create a more nuanced system that would not only impose levies on polluters, but also give preferential support to clean projects.

“Pricing and taxation are important aspects in the promotion of the environmental protection industry, and we are asking the National Development and Reform Commission and local planning departments to work together on this,” said Wang Jian, vice-head of the MEE’s financial policy department.

China has been trying to end a “one size fits all” approach to environmental protection and has already exempted front-running firms that fully comply with pollution standards from routine output curbs.

Previous campaigns to cut smog, including a six-month crackdown on 28 smog-prone northern cities beginning last October, forced factories to shut or restrict production whether they met state emissions standards or not.

In Friday’s document, the ministry also pledged to eliminate “bureaucratic thinking” and said it would no longer allow inspectors to go through the motions or order “simple and crude” industry closures in the name of environmental protection.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Subhranshu Sahu

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