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  • Series: Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series x
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Edited by Qin Tianbao

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Qin Tianbao and Zhou Chen

As its name indicates, this chapter describes an overall picture in which Chinese concurrent environmental laws have been formulated, implemented and enforced and then further developed, with all the necessary background information for a better understanding through a broader perspective. Several general and crucial issues are under intense discussion here, such as the basic Chinese situation on environmental degradation, its history of domestic environmental legislation and its institutional construction. Basically, this chapter adopts a holistic approach, taking a global view but with a focus on the regional and domestic levels. The element of time is important when we are trying to deepen the analysis on some key issues. For instance, we illustrate, briefly, the evolvement of the 1989 Environmental Protection Law, in particular its latest amendment released in 2014. In addition, Chapter 1 contributes to the entire book, by identifying the striking Chinese characters. These much-needed indigenous features are likely to be verified, where possible, in the rest of the chapters that each deal with individual specific areas. In the final part of this chapter the scope and stricture of the proposed handbook is outlined for guidance.

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Wang Huanhuan

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.

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Yu Wenxuan and Chen Shiyin

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.

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Liu Nengye

China is facing serious problems with water and marine pollution. Chinese law is intended to deal with the problem and the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law and Marine Environmental Protection Law were adopted some years ago. However, there are several drawbacks with this current legislation, such as: a lack of coordination between the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Water Resources Management; government failure to act in the countryside; and the lack of public participation. It is also noted that the most significant causes of marine pollution are from land-based sources and this pollution is principally carried into the sea. Nevertheless, China established two separate regimes for the prevention and control of water pollution and marine pollution. However, the separation of these two regimes then becomes an obstacle for effective prevention of marine pollution.

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Tou Xiaodong

Due to the increasingly serious soil pollution problem in China legislative measures have become imperative. This chapter analyses the development and relevant specific systems of legislation on soil pollution control by diachronic and synchronic research methods; these investigations demonstrate the need for perfecting relevant regulations. In view of the national conditions, the Chinese Government has admitted that more attention should be paid to soil pollution control and this chapter argues that contributions to special legislation including the accumulation of years of practical experience and some scattered legislation are already in place. Under the circumstances, a Soil Pollution Control of People's Republic of China would be a rational step and should be recommended. This chapter makes some recommendations on how to embody the new law’s basic ideas.

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Hou Jiaru

Since the PRC Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution Caused by Solid Waste was passed in 1995, the mechanism construction on the prevention of pollution by solid wastes has been gradually improved and perfected so that a pollution prevention mechanism system featuring extensive coverage, strong operability and a gradually reasonable and regulated structure has been formed. This chapter provides an overview of the regulations in this area, which include the existed legislation and its complex history, its fundamental principles and its supervision mechanism, but also its insufficiencies and recommendations for its improvement.

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Hou Jiaru

Toxic and harmful substances refer to those that are used in daily life that can pollute the environment, make people and animals toxic, sicken or die. From the perspective of environmental legislation, toxic and harmful substances are mainly of two types: the first type refers to chemical substance and the second to radioactive substance. At present, China has laws on single-line preventions on radioactive substances but has not yet promulgated comprehensive legislation on the prevention of pollution caused by the chemical substances. However, some regulations that originally were aimed at controlling chemical substances provide, to a degree, the legal grounds to prevent chemical pollution. This chapter provides an overview of China’s Regulations on Controlling and Prevention of Chemical Substance Pollution; on the Prevention and Treatment of Radioactive Contamination Pollution; and on the Prevention and Treatment of Pesticide Pollution.

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Jiang Xiaoyi

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.

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Tou Xiaodong

As the scarcity of land resource becomes more serious, strengthening legal protection becomes urgent. In view of its critical importance, scholars in various fields and countries have defined land resources differently. The natural characteristics, such as finiteness, and the legal characteristics in both public and private law, make the protection of land resources unique. The situation in China is no exception. A range of challenges, such as land ecosystem deterioration, land waste and land pollution, are currently faced in contemporary China. This chapter examines all these situations and finally summarizes the legal system of protection and management, represented by the current legislation in land management in China.