China has passed a law that levies taxes on pollution, but ignores carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to global warming, according to the web site of the country’s highest legislative body.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee passed the law, the first to tax polluters, on Sunday, less than a fortnight after a red alert for smog left more than 20 cities in the country’s northeast choking under a heavy haze.

A woman crosses a road near the Chinese national flag on a heavily polluted day in Shijiazhuang, in northern China’s Hebei province on December 21, 2016. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP.

Polluters will be charged for contributing to air, water and noise pollution, according to a copy of the legislation on the NPC’s official web site.

But CO2 did not make the list, which includes air and water pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and sulfite, taxed at rates beginning at 1.2 yuan (US$0.17) and 1.4 yuan (US$0.20) per unit respectively.

It also stipulates a monthly tax ranging from 350 to 11,200 yuan (US$50 to US$1612) for noise pollution.

The Environment Tax Law will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

A boy waits with a relative outside a hospital in Beijing on December 20, 2016. Photo: AFP/Greg Baker.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due to its heavy reliance on coal to provide electricity to its population of 1.37 billion.

The fuel has also contributed to the country’s severe smog problem.

Last week, cities across China’s northeast went on “red alert” for air pollution, triggering an emergency response that included taking large numbers of cars off the road and closing some factories.

The crisis also spurred a call by Chinese President Xi Jinping for the country to develop clean energy sources in order to reduce smog, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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