China has announced a new survey, in which it will require factories, farms and other “major polluters” to declare how much and what kind of pollution they release.
As an incentive, the government has promised immunity from prosecution for all willing participants.
“We need reliable date and, at the moment, there are obvious gaps,” said Ma Jun of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
In an interview with the BBC, Wang Yuqing, the man in charge of the project, said the main aim was to get a clear picture of China’s pollution problem.
The government will then use the information to develop new policies, he said.
Mr Wang added that the government would not use the information it collects against polluting firms.
“It is not about punishing or fining any particular company,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting about the census in Kunming, Yunnan Province.
This comes at a convenient time, as Olympic representatives began publicly airing their concerns.
“I can’t hide the fact that there is today a danger of atmospheric pollution in Beijing, but our Chinese friends are doing tremendous efforts to reduce this,” Rogge said during his visit to Vancouver, which will host the 2010 Winter Games.”
He added, “This is going to have good results not only for August in Beijing but for the decades to follow.”