China’s textile industry could face a new “green tax” even as the world’s No. 1 polluter struggles to meet its environmental targets for 2015, according to Ecotextile News on Tuesday. To increase its chances of achieving its targets, the State Council of China will “actively promote reforms in environment-related taxes” and “conduct research regarding the collection of an environmental tax.” Although China says it aims to cut energy consumption per 10,000 yuan ($1,570) of gross domestic product by 16 percent by 2015—the equivalent of 670 million metric tons of coal—progress has been lackluster. In fact, emissions of nitric oxide, a major pollutant, have risen 6.17 percent each year, per statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
THE TAXMAN COMETH
The textile industry is serious business in China, but its singular ability to undercut competitors’ prices has come at a colossal cost. As many as 70 percent of its rivers, lakes, and reservoirs are polluted, according to a 2006 China Institute of Geo-Environment Monitoring report. Despite recent acknowledgement by government officials of the severity of the situation, industrial discharge of toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative substances shows no sign of waning.
The textile industry is serious business in China, but its singular ability to undercut competitors’ prices has come at a colossal cost.
How a green tax will shake out remains to be seen, however, particularly in the wake of rising wages and slipping exports. In November, Joseph Lau, vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries said that minimum wages in the Pearl River Delta are likely to increase by 16 to 20 percent come January. “This means textile companies here can expect a dramatic rise in labor costs, together with higher raw-material prices,” he said, adding that firms that are highly labor-intensive and produce basic textile products could see significant challenges.
With all eyes at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, this week, the world waits with bated breath as China ponders its next move.
[Via Ecotextile News]