Articoli
10/01/2017
Internazionalizzazione - Diritto Amministrativo, Pubblico Comunitario

The new Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China

China is not willing to give up its independence and autonomy at the international level, but it wants to defend its achievements, especially the economic ones.

Nonetheless, China became aware of the seriousness and emergency of its numerous latent problems, starting a political, ethical, territorial “restoration” process in 2015, named “Chinese Dream”, in order to expose politicians in collusion with the polluters.

The adoption of the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China, April 24, 2014 amended, which came into force in January 1, 2015, was able to respond to the above-mentioned requirements.

The period from 2000 to 2015 is considered an unprecedented and remarkable historical moment in the ideological and political evolution towards the rule of law of the People’s Republic of China. A new paragraph was added to Article 5 of the amended Constitution, adopted during the Second Session of the Ninth National People’s Congress and promulgated on March 15, 1999, which provides the following: “The People’s Republic of China governs the country according to law and makes it a socialist country under rule of law.”

Since 2000, giving continuity to the legislative efforts to regulate the protection of the environment and resources was a priority; in October 2003, the Third Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party promoted a new approach to development called the “Scientific outlook on development” (科学发展观 Kexue fazhan guan) intended as: “[…] a complete development that supports human life and looks at a comprehensive and coordinated sustainable development, promote the overall development of the economy, individual and society.”

The Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) approved by the National People’s Congress for the first time replaced the term “plan” (计划 jihua) with “program” (规划 guihua) and introduced coercive parameters on environmental protection and parameters to save energy and natural resources.

The Five-Year Plan (now “Program”) also changed the slogan on economic development from “faster is better” (又快又好 you kuai you hao) in “better (is) faster” (又好 又快 you hao you kuai), transforming it from the original “model of economic growth” to the “economic development model”, which reflected the need for a new idea of “economic development” of the People’s Republic of China.

Specific regulations were separately adopted by the National People’s Republic of China Congress in the same years; in the Property Law of March 16, 2007, in force since October 1, 2007, contents related to the protection of natural resources are separately regulated (articles 46-69). Meanwhile, gaps in the implementation by government severely damaged the ecosystem.

However, the lack of attention of the authorities towards environment-related problems were reported. Their main responsibilities include: i) failure to fill the gaps in legislation required to compensate for the deficit created by practice; ii) the responsible officers of local governments and departments, in pursuing rapid growth parameters (GDP), were not only inefficient in their professional conduct, but even impede the enforcement of laws and regulations related to environment and exploitation of resources. Measures therefore need to be taken: the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2007 officially proposed that China should build an “ecological civilization”, and in the same year the SEPA was transformed into the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China – MEP (中华 人民共和国环境保护部 Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Huanjing Baohu Bu).

At the regulatory level, the provisions of Article 124 of the General Principles of Civil Law were supplemented by the provisions of the Tort Law of 2009, whose Chapter VII, Articles 65-68, sets forth the “Liability for Environmental Pollution” (环境污染责任 Huanjing wuran zeren).

Specifically, Article 65 provides: «Where any harm is caused by environmental pollution, the polluter shall assume the tort liability.» The system thus constituted a first “objectification” environmental interest; among the other legislative references regarding the protection of the environment there is the Criminal Code, Articles 338 to 346, and further legislation.

Inspired by the former, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China of 2012 took concrete measures for the dissemination of ecological research supplemented by economic, political, cultural and social objectives in the so-called “five in one” model (五位 一体 wu wei yiti) on which to base the (development of) socialist modernization.

The “five in one” model is actually a political document (developed by All China Federation of Trade Unit – ACFTU) that outlined 18 essential points to build socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics, which China intends to abide by.

According to experts, China has continuously revised all laws and regulations relating to environmental protection and to liability for environmental damage; for example, in The Amendment VIII to the Criminal Law approved by the National People’s Congress in April 2011 expressions such as “the crime of major environmental pollution accident” (重大环境污染事故罪 zhongda huanjing wuran shigu zui) have become “the crime of serious environmental pollution accident” (严重环境污染事故罪 yanzhong huanjing wuran shigu zui).

After the procedures for examination and approval had been conducted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the legislative text concerned the subject of environmental protection, the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China, April 24, 2014 amended, finally came into force in January 1, 2015.

The legislative process has proved difficult, even impact and results were controversial in nature, since China overtook the United States in 2006 as the world’s biggest CO2 polluter.

The current provisions have certainly collected all the information from many years of meetings, conferences, amendments and international debates at homeland and abroad to take all necessary and resolute counteroffensive measures against pollution, according to common sense and rationality principles and, obviously, not only against China itself.

 

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