All polluters held accountable regardless of fault

China’s top court on Monday ruled that all polluters will be liable for any damage they have on the environment even if they do not breach regulations.

According to a legal explanation issued by the Supreme People’s Court on Monday, which will be enforced from Wednesday, polluters will be held accountable for any discharge, even if it is within national or local standards, that causes damage.

The SPC said the ruling would also apply to public-interest litigation on environmental issues.

One year after the world’s second-largest economy “declared war” on pollution — following decades of pursing growth at the expense of air, water and soil quality — pollution remains a key challenge in the country.

The revised Environmental Law was adopted last year, bringing with it heavier punishment for those that break environment-protection legislation.

The new law stipulated that polluting enterprises should be “named and shamed”.

As an incentive for companies to expedite costly modifications to reduce pollutants, a daily fine system was introduced. No limit was set on the fine, meaning that polluting companies that fail to rectify problems will accumulate higher fines.

Executives at polluting companies could face up to 15-days detention.

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