Following the release of new State Council regulations seeking to promote more ecologically friendly development strategies, the South China Morning Post’s Li Jing reports that government officials will now face punishment for decisions that negatively impact the environment:
A document released by the cabinet on Tuesday said the consumption of resources, environmental damage and ecological competitiveness would all be carefully assessed by officials and their weight would be “significantly increased” so that the pursuit of economic growth would no longer be the only target of cadres.
Local governments at all levels now faced a “red line”, the document said, which meant they would need to ensure that there was no further deterioration in the quality of air, water and soil in their respective regions.
Any official that was found to have caused severe damage to the environment and natural resources would be held accountable – even after they had left the posts – and would no longer gain promotion. [Source]
The Xi administration has in recent years signaled a commitment to tackling the nation’s infamous environmental problems. In March 2014, at the start of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang declared “war against pollution.” Last November, Xi Jinping took this vow to the global community by signing an informal bilateral agreement on carbon emissions with Barack Obama—a move that sparked both criticism and praise. At this year’s legislative meetings, environmental issues topped the agenda, even as the independently produced and instantly viral “Under the Dome” documentary on air pollution was sealed by strict government censorship. Despite indications of an official devotion to climate action, last March several environmental protesters were briefly detained after calling for further government efforts towards cleaning up air pollution.