China's role in international environmental cooperation

Professor He discusses environmental protection system in China, contextualizing it in its wider framework and investigating its principles, defining features, drawbacks and traits. Professor He offers us a clear and well-reasoned essay on the present and future of China's environmental practices that could serve to gain a better knowledge on the international impact China on global policies. He evaluates the impact of the reforms on China's pollution and advances some solutions. Although China has an advanced environmental protection system, many gaps still exist. As it is highlighted, China is paying increasingly attention to its serious environmental problems, due to its rapid economic growth, huge pollution emission and resource consumption, even in rural areas. As Professor He writes, "most parts of the major laws in the environmental protection field focus on pollution control rather than nature preservation, environmental regulations at the local level are relatively weaker than those at the national level, and the gap in the legislation level between the more advanced countries and China persists to a large degree. Moreover, even though China has successfully formulated environmental laws, it has not implemented them with the same degree of success." China's environmental legislation is inspired by several principles: (I) principle of coordination of environmental protection and economic/social development; (II) principle of "prevention first;" (III) principle of environmental liability; (IV) principle of public participation; (V) principle of the "three synchronizations" (i.e., between construction, technological innovation, and urbanization projects); and many others. It is clear, in this kind of analysis, the change of direction of China's policies over the last years, if compared with the previously existent principles. The conclusion drawn is rather optimistic: China, affected by people's higher need for an healthy and beautiful environment, as well as the increasing international environmental protection external pressure, has made significant steps forwards, in the direction of an environment-friendly and resource-saving society. This strategy gradually starts from the top level of the government and moves to lower levels, and moves from the developed eastern regions to the less-developed western provinces and cities. Given this, one can foresee that in the next few years China's environmental legal system will make even further progresses and, on the basis of a coordinated economic, social, and environmental development, will play an increasingly important role in the international environmental movement. Overall, the government should do more to protect the environment, especially by promoting more public participation and by enhancing people's awareness on environmental matter.