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China Introduces Death Penalty for Serious Cases of Pollution

By James Burgess | Wed, 03 July 2013 22:08 | 1

Pollution is killing the world; a strong statement, but true. Certain levels of pollution are considered acceptable by many, such as vehicle exhaust fumes, but large levels of pollution must be controlled. Unfortunately the general attitude towards pollution in many countries, especially the US, is pretty lax.

People do go to jail for crimes against the environment, but it is very rare, with soft fines usually the main form of punishment. In Europe environmental regulations are far tougher, and jail terms and hefty fines are far more common.

Yet still pollution continues. Maybe in order to fully dissuade companies from causing excessive pollution more drastic measures must be taken.

China has quite easily the worst pollution levels in the world. Levels of small particulate matter in the atmosphere of cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, and others, is often recorded at seven times higher than the air quality standard set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Factories in the Pearl River Delta have released so much pollution into the water that it has created a dead zone that stretches from the river mouth several miles out into the sea. A recent study by the Health Effects Institute reported that over a million people die prematurely every year in China due to air pollution.

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It offers some relief then that they seem to be taking environmental crimes very seriously, after Chinese authorities have just given courts the power to hand out death sentences when dealing with cases of serious pollution.

Obviously an extreme approach, but maybe it is the only way to actually deal with the problem.

Traffic carefully moves through Beijing’s polluted streets
Traffic carefully moves through Beijing’s polluted streets. (The Guardian)

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It is thought that the government made this decision based on the pressure felt over the growing public anger at the widespread destruction of the environment by China’s industrial sector, as the country pursues a plan for economic growth. A joint study by the Public Opinion Research Centre and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, discovered that nearly 80% of the Chinese public believe that the protection of the environment is more important than economic development.

Only time will tell whether or not this stricter stance on pollution will actually have any effect. Western countries would never follow a similar route, but if China can significantly reduce its pollution and cut its emissions, then that would be a huge boost to the global battle against climate change.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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  • Benicio Galvez on August 16 2013 said:
    There was plenty of opportunity to make a good article here. The title mentions death penalty but the article doesn't mention anything useful about that.

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