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Ningbo tops pollution transparency list

  • Source: Global Times
  • [08:08 December 29 2010]
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By Liang Ruoqiao

The city of Ningbo in Southeast China has again been declared the most transparent city out of 113 in terms of pollution information disclosure.

It came 30 places above Beijing, according to the Pollution Information Transparency Index (PITI) jointly released by two nongovernmental organizations Tuesday in the capital.

The PITI was jointly developed by the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Envi-ronmental Affairs (IPE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has its headquarters in New York.

"China's pollution information disclosure generally continued to improve during the 2009-10 period, but progress was uneven," IPE director Ma Jun said.

Eleven cities including Ningbo, Shenzhen, Foshan and Shanghai scored above 60 points out of 100 in 2010, compared to only four last year.

The first PITI was released in June last year. Sixty points on the PITI scale are allocated to the fulfillment of information disclosure requirements under Chinese law by local environmental bureaus, 30 points are awarded in accordance to Ministry of Environmental Protection regulations, and the remaining 10 points are aimed at encouraging authorities to become more responsive to public demand for information.

None of the local environmental bureaus attained 90 points, which would signify full compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. The winner of the last two years, Ningbo, scored 82.1.

Chen Shengliang at the Chongqing Environmental Protection Bureau told the Global Times, "Chinese public servants face conflicting requirements for information confidentiality and disclosure," suggesting it was an obstacle.

Chongqing scored 53.9, lagging in terms of disclosure of information by public demand.

"In fact, information disclosure can relieve the pressure on authorities. Polluting enterprises will change their behavior automatically after media exposure," said Wang Canfa, a professor of environmental law at the China University of Political Science and Law.

Ningbo's environmental watchdog went even further by sending information on pollut-ers to the local branch of the People's Bank of China. "Many enterprises do not care about fines, but they are truly affected if their loans are threatened," said Xie Xiaocheng, director of the Ningbo Environmental Promotion and Information Center.

"Our report highlights good practices and weak performers. Data alone cannot make our skies bluer or our rivers cleaner. We need public engagement in order to make our environment better," Ma noted.

In countries such as the US, Canada and Indonesia, when pollution information reaches a certain degree, the total amount of pollutants decreases. In China, "what these NGOs are doing is pushing open the gate. After all, they are outside the system," said Chen.