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China to introduce green insurance system against pollution hazard

By Xinhua

Beijing : China is to introduce a green insurance system to better monitor polluting industries and help victims get immediate compensation, an environment watchdog official said here Monday.

The system, which aims at having all industries with pollution risks insured, will be implemented nationwide by 2015 after a trial period, said Pan Yue, vice director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

The system has been initiated under a roadmap jointly set by the SEPA and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), Pan said.

He said the system would be tried out this year in “companies that produce, sell, store, transport or use high-risk chemical products” and “petrochemical industry and dangerous waste disposing enterprises that were prone to heavy and serious pollution accidents.”

“Enterprises and industries having caused serious pollution accidents in recent years will be specially targeted,” he said.

In the past, once a serious environmental incident happened, the company responsible usually resorted to declaring itself bankrupt to avoid huge amount of compensation and pollution control expenses.

Victims usually could not get timely compensation, and the government had to earmark huge funds to rectify the situation, Pan said, noting that the “green insurance system” will solve the problem.

China is in a period with “a high incidence of environmental pollution accidents,” the official said.

Altogether 108 cases of emergent environmental incidents have been reported in 2007, with one case every two days on average, according to Pan.

SEPA’s figures show that 81 percent of the country’s 7,555 large-scale heavy chemical projects are in environmentally sensitive areas that are densely populated or in adjacent to neighbouring rivers, while 45 percent of these projects are “sources with serious risks.”