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China to Unveil Environmental Tax on Major Polluters Next Month

After three decades of dirty growth, China will unveil an ambitious, five-year cleanup plan. But skeptics question if the new proposals will have teeth

Jonathan Watts,

Feb 7, 2011
Pollution in Beijing

It is too early to proclaim the emergence of the world's first green superpower, but March's five-year plan will outline several new steps in that direction:

• Energy efficiency and environmental services to be declared "priority industries" for first time.

• Three trillion yuan ($455 billion) to be spent on environmental protection over the period – double the amount from 2006-2010

• A carbon intensity target – the ratio of GHG emissions relative to GDP – to be set, likely at about 16%.

• A new environmental tax on heavy polluters to levy fees on discharges of sulfur dioxide, sewage and other contaminants.

More radical steps are also under discussion including:

• A cap on energy use.

• A shift from GDP-based performance evaluation.

Image: Catharine Robertson

Republished with permission.

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