The spotlight on stronger environmental protection shows little sign of abating in the months since the January 2015 implementation of China’s revised Environmental Protection Law (EPL). Discussions on the 13th Five-Year Plan (FYP) (2016-2020) priorities for environmental protection, the draft Environmental Tax Law, and tougher enforcement measures all aim to increase pressure on polluters.
New provisions for continuous fines, detention for polluters, and public interest lawsuits give China’s revised Environmental Protection Law (EPL) new powers to fight the war on pollution. But whether or not the EPL’s added clout results in a cleaner environment depends on enforcement capacity—as well as implementation. The 1989 EPL was revised to mete out more serious punishments to polluters, reflecting growing concerns within China’s leadership and at the local level about worsening water and air pollution in China.