Professor Luo Li on environmental protection in China's court and how to reform it.

Professor Luo Li, in his article on the development of a coherent system of judicial reliefs in environmental matters through case notes and legislative reforms (ch. 13, China’s Role on Non-Trade Concerns), explores an under-researched and often marginalized topic in discussions about the protection of environment: that of the content and function of judicial pronouncements by courts. By addressing specifically the state of the art of this subject matter in China, Professor Li offers a rare insight on the actual functioning of Chinese courts and on China’s efforts to solve concretely its big environmental problems. The first thing that this article tells us is that – historically speaking – environmental protection in China took (not only alternatively) three forms: administrative, civil and criminal, and it describes each of them through an analysis of the landmark legal reforms and decision-making activity (for example illustrating the decisions, explanations and opinions by the Chongqing Municipal Intermediate People’s Court or the People’s Courts in Beijing). Then, he follows by illustrating the major current tendencies. One of them is the establishing of trial division for deciding environmental cases – an experiment that finds its roots in the need to assuring the most intense professionalization possible. This experiment was led by the Intermediate People’s Court in Guiyang City; Yixing District, Jiangyin District, Binhu District, Xishan District, and Huishan District followed this example, and many others (like Kunming Intermediate Court). Finally – and most importantly to me – the Author proceeds by emphasizing the importance and deep “political” significance of China’s Environmental Public Interest Litigation (P.I.L., art. 108 of China’s civil procedural code), a system that is based on the American model of public law litigation but that has gained specific characteristics. Quite paradoxically, from this analysis we easily get to know that China is somehow at the forefront in judicial protection of the environment. Whilst the first part is basically a description of the state of affairs, the second part critically evaluates the legal norms and rule and proposes new legal reforms. What is worth underlying here is that this element is considered crucial for implementation of new judicial reforms, as a set of judges with common judicial knowledge will not be able to guarantee the environment properly.