The Law on the Prevention and Control of Air Pollution (2000) is the special law on air pollution prevention and other relevant Regulations and Rules were enacted according to this Law. These constitute the legal system for providing clean air in China. The main contents of this chapter include: supervision and management; pollution caused by coal; pollution caused by vehicles and vessels; exhausted gases, dusts and fetors; pollution caused by straw burning; ozone layer protection; energy saving and emissions reduction; and environmental standards. Some special measures are provided to solving the problem of air pollution. This clean air legal system, however, needs to be improved in regulatory scope, in its consistency with other environmental protection laws, the liabilities and environmental management approaches, such as market-based approaches and public involvement.
Legislation plays an important role in biodiversity conservation in China, it includes: constitutional provisions; biodiversity-related laws; regulations; rules; and normative documents. The content of all these biodiversity conservation laws include the following aspects: ecosystem protection and conservation; natural reserves; utilization of wild animals and plants; management of germ plasm; management of traditional Chinese medicine species; new varieties management; and quarantine. Existing legislation provides an important legal basis for biodiversity management, but it needs to be improved in its objectives, legislative integration, legal regimes and legislative progress. To meet these challenges, further legislation needs to clearly define the objectives, form an integrated legal system, and, most important of all, make the legal regimes more specific and detailed.
As a populous and leading developing country, China attaches great importance to environmental issues and plays an indispensible role in the international environmental regulatory regime. For decades, China has participated in various international environmental agreements, which cover the areas of sustainable development and general environmental agreements, international atmospheric environmental protection, international freshwater resources utilization and protection, international marine pollution control, international biological resources protection, international land resources protection, environmental protection in polar regions, environmental protection in outer space, world natural and cultural heritages protection, international hazardous substances and activities management, international wastes management, control of the weapons of mass destruction and environmental protection and international trade and environmental protection. This chapter provides an overview of China’s participation in all these areas and suggests means by which it can take a more prominent role in future years.
China has always seen itself as a developing country. The transfer of funding and technology from developed to developing countries has been China’s key concern in international environmental issues for the past 30 years. China hopes to gain more funding, technology and other capacity building resources from developed countries so as to improve its work on environmental protection. Economic development has been China’s priority for decades. Since it first adopted its market reform and open door policies, China has clearly stated its belief that a good economy provides the foundation for better environmental protection. Although China would like to avoid the western model of “pollution first, restoration later”, it has failed to create a new path to developing the economy while protecting the environment. As the world’s second largest economy, it is time now for China to make a more significant contribution to combating global environmental issues, such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
This chapter provides an overview of the current legal system and legal institutions –statutes, courts for instance – in a broader sense, in China with emphasis on environmental law where appropriate. The issues, such as how laws are promulgated, which laws are currently in effect, who is responsible for the execution of laws, and how judiciary system works are the main topics. It begins with a structural description of laws currently in effect in accordance with the customized divisions of the legal system. Then, it reviews the legislative branch including the allocation of legislative power, the legislative procedures and the rules resolving conflicts of legal norms. The judiciary system concerning the courts and the procuratorates as well as the role of the executive branch are analyzed.
China is under considerable pressure to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Facing this situation, China has passed various national policies and regulatory documents that aim to promote sustainable development and to fulfill its reduction responsibility. All these documents are expected to serve as the policy and legal guarantee to further enhance China’s capabilities for addressing climate change in spite of the different characteristics of the three phases. Moreover, China’s attempts to address CO2 emissions have predominantly focused on legislation in areas such as energy efficiency, the feed-in tariff under its renewables law, other specific laws for energy-related industries or promoting a low-carbon economy. In addition, the Chinese Government has formed an institutional framework to address climate change and is making efforts to deepen the reform of energy management and decision systems. Nevertheless, the only way for China to meet the challenge of climate change is to develop a low-carbon economy.
Zhou Chen and Qin Tianbao
Chapter 19 is a comprehensive conclusion for the entire handbook. Based on the previous discussions on every single legislative area in China’s environmental protection, this chapter focuses mostly on the general recollection of the major and most remarkable endeavors the Chinese environmental legislature has achieved in the past decades. And, as a logic consequence, it throws light on the comments in a prudent and constructive term, which in turn mirrors some important opinions in the very first chapter such as the striking Chinese features. For specific environmental issues, individual chapters (from 2–18) have a wealth of information, illustrating them with various examples from all over the China. To a large extent, they are framed and self-concluded. This final chapter is, therefore, freed from having to complete more details on the relevant areas. Instead, it looks ahead, highlighting the mainstream trends and prospects of Chinese environmental protection activities and legislative progress, which is of particular importance under the new context of the China’s judiciary reformation: the era of rule of law as well as ecological civilization construction.
Zhao Xiaobo and Zhang Jianwei
In China, environmental disputes may arise between different parties with quite different contexts: (1) disputes between polluters and the victims of environmental pollution; (2) disputes among the regulated community; and (3) disputes in the environmental protection authorities, and between members of the public and the government. Accordingly, these types of disputes can be solved or settled by different means jointly or respectively, which primarily include environmental litigation and Alternative Disputes Resolutions (ADRs). This chapter introduces legal frameworks of environmental dispute resolution in China and primarily examines the methods for resolving disputes between polluters and victims of pollution. It then introduces the environmental court system in China; it also explores the role of environmental litigation, the main features of civil acts, administrative acts and criminal litigation. In addition, people’s mediation, administrative mediation and judicial mediation, is discussed in the context of environmental disputes settlement. It concludes with suggestions for a more effective and equitable dispute settlement mechanism in China.
Zhao Xiaobo and Zhang Jianwei
Under the Chinese environmental law context, ‘environmental liability’ refers to an obligation based on the principle that a polluting party should pay partly or entirely for damage caused by its activities. As an umbrella term, it includes three types of environmental liabilities: the civil liability, administrative liability and criminal liability, which most of the private and public law actions involving environmental harm may commonly rely upon. Violators may face potential fines, penalties, or jail terms for violations of various environmental statutes. This chapter will first explore the nature and definition of each type of environmental liability. It will then consider the components of each liability which include the scope of each liability, liability standards and remedy issue may in recent times have been supplemented by China’s Criminal Law 1997 (as revised) and the Environmental Protection Law 2014.
This chapter gives an overview of forest resources and legislation associated with it in China, it discusses the basic legal principles of forest resources law in China and analyses the function and defects of the legal institutions of China’s forest resources law. These institutions include: forest rights; forest felling licenses and restrictions; sealing off for cultivation and the institution of natural preservation zones; afforestation; forest fires prevention; prevention and control of forest insect pests; the forestry fund and the forest ecological benefit compensation fund; the prohibition and restriction of the precious woods export; and forest public security systems. According to China’s Forest Law, offenders may bear three different types of liabilities: civil liability, administrative liability and criminal liability.