Environment ministry adds 2 departments
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-07-11 08:49

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will set up two supervision and monitoring departments, as part of efforts to fight pollution, officials said yesterday.

The move is expected to pave the way for a system to cap and trade in emissions, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution from industries, analysts have said.

With the latest beef-up, the State Council has allowed the ministry to recruit another 50 employees for the new departments, bringing its headcount to 300, the ministry's spokesman said.

The expansion signifies the ministry's added emphasis on controlling emissions nationwide and is in line with the country's target to cut 10 percent of major pollutants by 2010, he said.

Mao Shoulong, public policy professor of the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said the expansion of the ministry's organizational structure and staff size suggests a strengthening of environmental governance, itself a result of the ministry's recent upgrade to a full-fledged ministry.

"The concept of total emissions control will allow the introduction of economic measurements to curb pollution, such as an emissions trading system, " Mao said.

To that effect, the country is expected to establish a national cap-and-trade system for SO2 emissions, to deal with pollution from the power industry.

These efforts reportedly need a more precise monitoring of environmental quality, including the calculation of total emissions.

The country's environment-related laws currently do not have specific stipulations on the control of total emissions. Consequently, some industrial enterprises end up becoming major polluters, the 21st Century Business Herald has reported.

There are now 2,900 environmental inspection agencies across all levels, comprising about 53,000 employees, official figures show.

"The legal framework for environmental protection is good," Mao said, "For example, the country has many environmental laws and regulations. But enforcement, especially at local levels, needs to be strengthened."

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