A visitor looks at a water purification device at the 11th China International Environmental Protection Exhibition and Conference in Beijing yesterday.[Zhang Wei]
China's first Pollution Information Transparency Index (PITI) has been officially launched and has published its first annual assessment of the pollution information disclosure performance of 113 Chinese cities for 2008.
The PITI, set up by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is part of efforts to strengthen public awareness and supervision of environmental issues and protection.
The evaluation items of the PITI include disclosure of polluters' environmental rule violation, their subsequent improvement and rectification, assessment results of enterprises' environmental impact, and five other items requiring local environmental bureaus to put out such information mainly through websites and some other channels.
The first annual results show that Ningbo in Zhejiang province ranked first for its all-round performance, while Shanghai ranked first in disclosure of enterprises' environmental rule violation, and Beijing performed best in disclosure of public environmental complaints and their settlement.
The maximum score is 100; overall, only four cities got scores over 60. These were Ningbo of Zhejiang province, Hefei of Anhui province, Fuzhou of Fujian province and Wuhan of Hubei province. The average score was 30.
The results also show that eastern Chinese cities performed better on environmental information publication than cities in central China, while central cities performed better than cities in western China.
Ma Jun, director of IPE, said some western and central cities performed better than eastern cities, including Wuhan, Chongqing and Taiyuan.
He added: "It deserves to be mentioned that some very polluted cities did not perform very well on publication of environmental information; for example, Benxi in Liaoning and Kaifeng in Henan."
Alex Wang, director of the NRDC China Environmental Law Project, said the index was in line with Chinese regulations regarding environmental information disclosure and it would positively impact the country's environmental protection and pollution reduction targets.
He added that China's legal requirements for environmental data disclosure compare favorably with other countries, but implementation is only at the beginning stages.