China gets tougher on environmental violations

China imposed stiffer punishments on companies that violated environmental laws last year, according to new research that illustrates Beijing’s growing resolve to push through aspects of a greener social agenda.

The research, conducted by financial index provider MSCI, recorded a near doubling in the cost of environmental penalties on selected companies in 2015 compared with the previous year and a near tripling in the likelihood that punitive action would be taken against offenders.

The study covered 155 Chinese companies that are constituents of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Companies, officials punished for failure to control pollution

China has been strengthening its environmental oversight under a revised law, shutting down 9,300 companies and suspending work at another 15,000 in the first six months of the year.

A revised Environmental Protection Law with more "teeth" took effect on Jan 1, holding more officials and company managers account-able for violations, and stipulating that governments shoulder the major responsibility for protecting and improving the environment.

In the first half of the year, environmental watchdogs inspected more than 620,000 companies.