China may launch environmental tax trial: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - Three Chinese ministries will soon submit a proposal for an environmental tax on a trial basis, the China Business News reported on Thursday.

The tax would be tested in four largely rural provinces, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Gansu, the newspaper said. The finance ministry, environmental protection ministry and tax administration were set to make the proposal to the State Council, or cabinet, it added.

An environmental tax, likely to be levied on emissions of carbon dioxide and discharges of polluted water, would form part of Beijing’s drive to make its economic growth cleaner.

China has pledged to cut its carbon intensity -- the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP -- by 40-45 percent by 2020. Beijing has already taken steps to crack down on highly polluting industries and many expect it to get progressively tougher in the coming years.

In the past month, a toxic gold mine discharge in China’s southeast and an oil spill in its northeast have underscored how much work the government has ahead of it.

Reporting by Zhou Xin and Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Ken Wills