One of China’s leading environmental activists has launched a “name and shame” website that maps the locations of more than 4,000 air polluters in the country, including 40 multinational companies.

The move highlights the push by activists to put pressure on corporate polluters in China, which is expected to become the world’s largest carbon emitter this year.

The Chinese-language China Air Pollution Map, published on Thursday, follows last year’s Water Pollution Map, a website that listed about 9,000 companies across the country, including multinationals such as Carlsberg, the Danish brewer.

Ma Jun, founder of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, has named 40 foreign companies on the Air Pollution Map, including Michelin, the French tyre-maker, and BASF, the German chemical company. Subsidiaries of large Chinese enterprises such as Sinopec and PetroChina oil companies are also on the list.

Polluters can get their names removed from Mr Ma’s websites by fixing problems and asking a third party to audit operations.

BASF said it was put on the air pollution list as a result of a temporary leak at a Shanghai plant in June. A spokesman said the leak was quickly remedied and did not pose a danger to staff or the local population.

Michelin said on Thursday it was unaware it had been placed on the list. A spokesperson said: “We are extremely strict on environmental policy – our environmental policies are the same everywhere in the world.”

Carlsberg featured on the Water Pollution Map, according to Mr Ma, after building a beer factory in Tianshui in the north-western Gansu province, just 100 meters from a river. The plant was fined only Rmb5,000 for its discharge, compared with the Rmb3.9m ($530,000, €363,000, £259,000) that a water treatment plant would have cost.

Carlsberg on Thursday said it was placed on the water pollution list while construction of the waste water plant was held up. “We really regret that we had these construction problems,” a spokesperson said. “A water treatment plant was completed weeks after they were placed on the list.”

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