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Close loopholes in environmental protection information system

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-14 07:29

Close loopholes in environmental protection information system

An investor checks stock information on his mobile phone in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Beijing, February 16, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]

With the beginning or a new financial year in March, one after another company listed in the A-share market have published their annual reports. However, a survey by People's Daily found that the majority of the companies did not include environmental information in their reports. Beijing News comments:

Of all the companies in China, those listed in the A-share market are perhaps the most transparent, because they have to publish their information to shareholders. However, even they fail to provide information on their environmental protection efforts in their annual reports, and the situation with other enterprises is even worse.

How has that happened?

The primary cause is loopholes in the environmental protection information system. According to the law and regulations, only those companies on the list of serious polluters are required to publish their environmental information, while all the other enterprises can decide whether or not to publish the information.

Worse, some enterprises on the list even play tricks in publishing this information. Some reportedly publish their environmental information via local radio broadcasts at midnight when few people will be listening.

Besides, there are few penalties for those enterprises that fail to publish their environmental information. According to the Law on Environmental Protection, the companies listed in A-share market can be fined up to 30,000 yuan ($4,356) if they fail to publish their environmental information, which is ridiculously low compared with their profits.

Last but no less important, the threshold for litigation in the public interest is so high that it is beyond ordinary residents' reach.

It is time China solved this problem. Companies listed in the A-share market should actively publish their environmental information. That's not only part of their social responsibilities, but also something related to the risks of a company's business. Companies should not try to hide this part of information from their shareholders.

The Law on Environmental Protection should be revised so that companies face heavier penalties for failing in their disclosure duty. Besides, the Securities Law should also be revised, so as to make it mandatory for companies listed in the A-share market to publish information on their environmental protection efforts.

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