By 2020, China will create rules for environmental monitoring
China will establish a system of responsibility guaranteeing that environmental monitoring stations and data remain free of interference and falsification, the central government said in a statement on Thursday.
By 2020, China will establish a system of responsibility covering all parties involved in environmental monitoring - governments, polluting companies and service agencies - and will include improved management measures, the statement said.
The system will be aimed at making sure all monitoring stations, agencies and employees, work independently and impartially to ensure accurate, authentic records, the statement said.
To improve the quality of monitoring data, it's critical to create policies on the conduct of environmental science, which will help governments win public trust, it added.
China has taken steps to improve technology and improve the accuracy of data collected over the past 40 years, said Liu Zhiquan, head of the environmental monitoring department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
But interference from some government officials, companies and service agencies have been exposed frequently, harming the governments' reputation and misrepresenting the condition of the environment, Liu said.
For example, environmental inspectors from the central government found that the governments of Xiangtan city and Xiangxiang county in Hunan province had issued false documents in December saying that one of the leading companies had discharged pollutants at a level below the national standard to help the company pass an environmental assessment.
Under the new system, government officials will play leading roles in preventing the falsification of monitoring data, and any city with severe violations will be summoned by the ministry and provincial environment bureaus and receive severe punishment, the statement said.
In addition, all the monitoring data from different departments - such as environmental, agriculture, and water resources departments at different levels - will share unified standards, the statement said.
It added that the environment ministry will lead other ministries in building the overall monitoring network, covering the Chinese mainland, oceans and islands.
The system to strengthen monitoring data follows other steps, including a new interpretation of the Criminal Law. Since Jan 1 this year, anyone who tampers with or fabricates data or interferes with the operation of monitoring equipment may face imprisonment of three to seven years and be subject to fines in cases that result in severe consequences. The punishments may deter violators, the ministry has said.