Lu Zhongmei, one of the authors of the China Environmental Development Report, has strongly stressed the importance to establish a new environmental health law in China in order to secure the rights to compensation for victims of pollution.
The existing China's environmental protection laws insufficiently mention the concept of “safeguarding human health”: only six of the 30 laws include the phrase, the report shows. Moreover, all of these environmental laws lack specific rules for their fulfillment.
According to the report, the basic and fundamental objective of an Environmental Protection Law must be to provide protection to the lives and health of the public by managing risks, rather than undertaking remedies and pollution caps of traditional environmental protection laws. In this way, the new legislation should be implemented providing for the prevention and management of risk, and for communication with the public on these issues.
In line with this, the report suggests to establish an Environmental Health Law in order to highlight the government’s duty to protect human health and the environment safety at the same time. Additionally, the law will require the assessment of health risks during environmental impact studies for both regional development plans and individual projects, providing rules on compensation for harm to health.
However, this proposal has raised concerns and critiques.
According to the deputy director of the Resources and Environmental Policy Research Institute, the current Chinese environmental legislation, including the Air Pollution Control Law, the Water Pollution Control Law and the Environmental Protection Law, represents an adequate instrument, stressing the importance to implement the existing laws fixing those institutional and procedural obstacles encountered during enforcement. Following this point of view, other experts have argued that the problem of compensation should be resolved with the reinforcement of existing laws.
However, other experts have welcomed the project: recent serious environmental incidents have meant that the main laws need to be significantly refined. Furthermore, the large number of cases disclosed in the report show that victims of pollution in China rarely obtain legal relief.
The gLAWcal Team
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.