Environment information matters
Environmental inspectors check the exhaust of a truck at a logistics park in Beijing's Tongzhou district this month.[Photo by GUO QIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]
In introducing the public-accessible air monitoring system, the Chengdu plant has taken a big stride toward making the environment quality of its operations transparent. The plant's initiative is a good example that others can follow.
The authorities have never stopped making steps toward greater openness on environmental issues to mitigate people's concerns. In a recent document aimed at promoting government information disclosure, the State Council, China's Cabinet, stressed the need to publicize environmental policy measures and make progress in protecting and cleaning up the environment, especially air pollution.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection recently published its 2016 annual information disclosure report, including such information as the supervision work of the central environment inspection teams, their talks with local governments, and violations of the law by enterprises. Local governments' environmental information transparency has also been rising in recent years, as indicated by environmental index reports published by nongovernmental organizations.
However, environmental information can only realize its true value after it is transmitted to targeted groups in a timely manner. For example, only after residents can easily acquire information of local enterprises, including whether they discharge more pollutants than they are allowed to or violate the Environmental Protection Law, can they more actively participate in environmental protection.
Recently, the China National Environmental Monitoring Center decided to cooperate with a company that offers a weather app to send timely and authoritative environmental information to the public via the app. This is another example of how to disclose environmental information to the public.
However, it is still common for the public to have no convenient channels to access information about polluters and pollution, especially information about the current state of the local environment and sources of pollutions.