China is slapping $47 million worth of fines on hundreds of coal power plants for breaching the country’s environmental regulations and manipulating data to claim green energy subsidies.
A subsidiary of Shenhua Group was fined $7.5 million and a plant controlled by China Guodian Corporation had to fork over more than $1 million, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement Wednesday. The power plants allegedly pumped excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.
The NDRC has never publicized the amount of money it slaps on coal companies that violate China’s regulations. The decision to publish the size of the fines comes after the country began engaging in a type of “name and shame” policy against polluters.
The campaign to publicly shame companies into complying with China’s regulatory regime has been met with mixed results.
“Naming and shaming is meant to deter firms from environmental violations,” said Alex Wang, an expert in Chinese environmental law at UCLA. “But where the economics don’t work out for firms, and in places where non-compliance is common, (the tactic) won’t have much of an effect.”
The scarlet letter policy comes as China has taken drastic efforts at reducing the country’s snarling air pollution.
China passed a law in December taxing air and water pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and sulfite at $0.17 and $0.20 per unit of emissions, respectively. The law, which is expected to be enacted in 2018, will not include carbon dioxide pollutants.
China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. Researchers believe the country’s pollution woes are largely due to its reliance on coal power. Of the world’s 2,400 coal-fired power plants under construction or being planned around the world, 1,171 will be built in China.
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