王曦教授接受中国国际广播电台英语采访,畅谈中国环境法制的完善之道

[ 作者]: 高雅静 [ 发布时间]: 2013-04-08 [ 来源]: 环境资源法研究所

字号: [] [] [] [ 阅读]:4233人次      [ 关闭窗口]

2013年3月5日上午,王曦教授在办公室接受了中国国际广播电台记者的英语电话采访直播,畅谈中国环境法制的完善之道。在访谈中,王曦教授首先谈了对我国环境质量的总体印象,然后从法律的角度谈了我国环境问题未得到解决的原因,最后谈了对完善我国环境法制的建议。以下是该访谈的完整录音。
 
Interviewer: Good morning, Professor Wang.
Professor Wang: Good morning!
Interviewer: I’m Richard Zhen. How are you today?
Professor Wang: Very well.
Interviewer: So the sound quality is ok, right?
Professor Wang: Sorry?
Interviewer: Is the sound quality OK?
Professor Wang: It's Ok.
Interviewer: All right! So shall we start?
Professor Wang: OK!
Interviewer: All right! Professor Wang, Welcome to the program! China's fast economic development has causes about a lot of problems, for instance, pollution, on the one hand, which each on has made great efforts in protecting environment ,for instance, to strengthen legislation, and to set up clear targets, reduce gas emissions, and energy consumption. But on the other hand, we still see pollution still place a big part of China. So first of all, can you tell us your general impression on China’s current environmental management?
Professor Wang: My general impression for the environment quality of China is not good. The environmental quality is deteriorating, especially this year, we see a lot of air pollution and water pollution. It seems get worse and worse. So in general, my impression is not so good. Although our government and enterprises have put great efforts to control pollution, but the pollution actually hasn’t been really under control.
Interviewer: As I understand China has putting in place dozens of pieces of environmental legislations and regulations, and especially in recent years. We have achieved a lot from prospective in environmental legislation. Why do you think that we are still facing this grave challenge from environmental pollution?
Professor Wang: I think the problem is that environmental legislation hasn’t been fully implemented. The legislation only stays on the paper. The reasons for why they are not fully implemented, I think, basically there are three.  Those three reasons are related to each other. The first reason, I think, is there are many enterprises, they didn’t fully comply with the law. They illegally discharge pollutants to the environment, either to air or to water, or to soil. Many such illegal discharge exist in China. That is one reason. The second reason is that the government, especially the local government does not seriously or strictly enforce environmental law. Government has a duty or responsibility to supervise or monitor the discharge activities of enterprises. But in many places local governments ignored this duty. They only focus on local economical growth, ignoring to fully implement environmental law for protecting environment. In many places, local governments depend upon local industries to get local public income. Our evaluation system for the performance of government officials also has some problems. The main problem is, that the evaluation system put more weight on economical growth and less weight on the local environmental quality. Under this evaluation system, local government officials naturally tended to follow the requirement for promoting local economy, because the evaluation system directing them to do so.  That’s why, in many places, the local government didn’t fully carry out their duty in environmental protection. In their jurisdictions, there are many enterprises violating the environmental law, but no one to supervise and to punish them. That is the second reason. The third reason, I think, is there is very little check on our local government. When a local government ignored its environmental duty, there should be someone to remind the local government that it shouldn’t do that. And the one to remind or to supervise our local government is the general citizens or the general society. But in China, this kind of social force for supervising our government performance is still underdeveloped. So local governments are largely not under supervision by the society. That’s why when they ignored their duty to enforce environmental law but can be free of any punishment. I think the three reasons indicate that in order to improve China’s environment, each of the three parties, or three players should fully carry out their rights and duties to environment. The enterprises need to strictly follow environment law in their business operation. The government needs to strictly enforce environment law. The general citizens should have the right to supervise the governments and local industries for protecting environment.
Interviewer: According to you, it seems that China’s problem with protecting environment lies much more in implementation of environmental legislation rather than legislation process itself. So how can we make China’s environmental watch dog or other related departments into one with more teeth, so they can bring this legislation into implementation in earnest in protecting environment.
Professor Wang: I think the problem is not only in implementation and enforcement. It is also in legislation itself. Although we have many environmental statutes, they covered almost all kinds of pollution problems. But in our environmental law there is one defect or loophole, which is very important. That is, in our environmental law, there is very little provisions or requirements about the behavior of local government. Our environmental statutes, mostly target on enterprises. It seems that legislators tends to think environmental problems are only caused by industries. So they made environmental law and put industries under control. However, especially in China, in addition to industries, the government, especially local governments are also, in many cases, the problem-maker for environment. For example, there are many reports said that when local governments planned local economic development or when they introduced industries to the local places, they made wrong decision. They developed an industry which was not good for the local environment or not fully supported by the local ecological system. They invited an industry or a factory to their jurisdiction, but the industry or factory turned out to be a big polluter and caused huge problems for the health of local people and the local environment . When a government plans economy, it should make right decision and take environment into account. But in China, such requirement in our law is very weak, so our local governments, in many places, are free to do any kinds of local industrial development planning. So I think, in order to change this situation, we also need to improve environmental legislation so as to let the environmental law not only regulate industries, but also restrain government decision making related to environment.
Interviewer: Right! One last question, Professor Wang. You mentioned a sort of assessment practice for local government performance to improve the local GDP with no attention been paid to environmental protection. That is why the local officials have put so much emphasis on GDP growth while putting environmental protection on the back burner. What efforts can we make and what kind of actions should we take so that we incorporate in environmental factor in the assessment process of performance of local officials.
Professor Wang: Yeah, I think, at least we can do three things. The first is depended upon the Communist Party. The Communist Party should improve the cadres evaluation system to let environment have a heavier weight in the assessment, not only the growth of GDP is the only target or only indicators for the evaluation of government officials.  We need to put environment quality as one of the indicators for this evaluation as well.  This is the first thing. The second is that we need to improve our legislation, so as to set up a system which require our government, especially local government to take right decision when they plan local economy. In our environmental law, we need to set up a system for accounting government officials performance in environment protection. We should not only take into account their performance in economic growth, but also take into account their performance for environmental protection. Therefore, our Congress needs to improve environmental law to set more standards for the performance of our government related to the environment. This is the second thing. The third thing, I think, is also related to legislation, that is, our Congress should improve our law, not only environmental law, but the whole legal system to give more protection for the general citizen to excise their right for information and the right for supervising the government performance, to provide more operational procedures for general citizen, including citizens groups, to excise these rights.
Interviewer: Right! That was Professor Wang Xi in Environmental and Resources Law Institute of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the former member of the National Committee of CPPCC. Professor Wang, thank you very much indeed.
Professor Wang: You are welcome!
Interviewer: Have a good day to you!
Professor Wang: You, too!
Interviewer: Good bye!
Professor Wang: Bye!

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