Why China's Environmental Laws Have Been Useless in Stopping Pollution


photo: Charlotte Marillet via flickr

It's no secret that China's economic growth has contributed to massive environmental problems in the nation; it's also fairly well known that China has actually enacted some pretty strict laws trying to stop that degradation, in fact some are stricter than in the United States. The effectiveness of those laws is, in the words of Peking University's law professor Wang Jin writing in China Dialogue bluntly "useless". Here's why.Environmental Laws Riddled With Holes
If you need to get caught up on the general history of environmental law in China, read the original article linked above, but the top line figure is that since 1979 about 10% of all law introduced has been related to environmental resources, energy, and renewable energy. Yet those laws have prevented 10% of all arable land being degraded by pollution, nor reducing disputes over pollution, which have increased 20-25% ever year for the past fourteen years.

According to Wang Jin there are three main reasons why China's environmental laws have failed: 1) The basic legal system is incomplete; 2)the laws that have been enacted aren't particularly well crafted; 3) The overall aims of a law often contradict the articles of the law.

Here's an example of this failure:

In May 2010, the government of Guzhen county, in the eastern province of Anhui, removed six local environmental-protection officials - including the bureau chief - from their posts. They had checked up on one firm three times within a 20 day period, a move the government claimed was damaging efforts to attract investment. A local Anhui province law requires environmental authorities to obtain approval before making checks. Other places are following suit, with the result that the biggest polluters and energy consumers are being protected by local government.

Read the original: "China's green laws are useless"

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More on China & The Environment:
China's Coal-Burning Cost the Environment $13 Billion Last Year
Citing Environment, China Delays World's Longest Aqueduct Project
In China, Pollution Causes Two Birth Defects a Minute: Official
China's Grassroots Green NGOs Double in Three Years

Tags: China | Pollution