China proposes double taxes on excess emissions

BEIJING – The State Council, China’s cabinet, on Wednesday released for public opinion adraft law on environmental taxes, which proposes business taxes for pollutants, solid wasteand noise.

The draft proposed rates ranging from 350 yuan ($57) to 11,200 yuan on various industrialnoises according to the decibels level.

It also set rates of 1.2 yuan on a stipulated quantity of air pollutants, 1.4 yuan on a stipulatedquantity of water pollutants, and a range of 5 to 30 yuan for each ton of different kinds of solidwaste.

Rates will be doubled for emissions in excess of the stipulated amount.

Taxes may also be halved if emissions are below half the national standard.

Provincial governments may “appropriately” raise rates taking local environmental conditionsinto account.

The draft was drawn up by the Ministry of Finance, State Administration of Taxation andMinistry of Environmental Protection to promote an “energy saving, and environmentallyfriendly” industrial system, according to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.

Instead of taxing polluters, China currently collects a “pollutant discharge fee” that almostequals the standard tax amount in the draft law.

For each outlet for waste air and water, authorities can tax at most three major pollutants, butthat number could reach five if the pollutants are all heavy metals. This still allows provincialgovernments to increase the categories of pollutants subject to taxation based on their”special needs”.

On Tuesday, Environment Minister Chen Jining said, “the Chinese environment is reaching orhas reached its limit.”

Chen characterized the overall Chinese environment as “poor”, with high pollutant emissions,serious ecological damage and high risks, which are all very far from public expectations.

He said the government will take “more forceful” measures in the next five years to protect theenvironment and promote green development.

According to the draft, the tax will exclude pollutants from agriculture except those from large-scale animal husbandry and mobile pollution sources including motor vehicles, locomotives,non-road mobile machinery, ships and aircraft as long as the pollutants are within nationalstandards.

Normal emissions by urban sewage and refuse treatment plants will also be exempted.

No punishment is specified for tax evasion or fraud, merely that tax authorities should reportsuch violations to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

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