China aims to codify environmental laws

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A move expected to step up legislative efforts to fight pollution and beautify the country

China is developing environmental and ecological norms that will allow for stronger laws to curb pollution and promote national beautification efforts.

Xu Anbiao, an official at China’s highest legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said that thanks to the legislative achievements in environmental protection over the past decade, “the time has come to codify this area.” Stated.

He made the remarks while providing details about the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s five-year legislative plan, which was announced in September.

If passed, this code would be the country’s second law. The Civil Code, the basic law regulating civil activities adopted by the National People’s Congress in May 2020, is the first law to become a legal code since the founding of New China in 1949, and came into effect in January 2021.

Mr. Xu, vice chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, cited the Civil Code as a legislative milestone and said that laws in other areas can be further systematized, integrated and coordinated in accordance with the requirements of the central leadership. emphasized that it is important.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the country’s environmental protection legislation has accelerated, with tougher penalties for polluters and innovative measures in terms of environmental monitoring.

Mr. Xu said that the National People’s Congress Standing Committee had enacted and revised 19 laws related to the environment and ecosystem in the past 10 years, bringing the total number of such laws to more than 30.

He said Chinese lawmakers last year approved the Black Soil Protection Law and the Yellow River Protection Law to fill gaps in the legislation, and the Wildlife Protection Law was also amended.

When the Civil Procedure Law and Administrative Procedure Law were amended in 2017, “we added provisions that would allow prosecutors to bring public interest litigation related to environmental protection in order to strengthen supervision over polluters,” he said.

At that time, China had enacted more than 100 regulations and more than 1,000 local instruments, and was also stepping up efforts to form a complete legal system on environment and ecosystems, Xu added.

“It is clear that the environmental field should be one of the most suitable and compatible fields to be codified,” said Bee Tao, director of the Department of Law, Regulation and Standards, Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Stated.

He said the codification will fully demonstrate the viability of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics and help limit the legislative achievements in environmental protection.

“A code with a scientific style, rigorous structure, reasonable format and complete content can also help promote the governance capacity of environmental protection through the rule of law,” Bee said.

In March, Liu Zhongmei, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress and vice president of the China Law Association, introduced a motion on establishing environmental norms and suggested that the Verkhovna Rada make it a priority.

“Our country continues to face major environmental challenges and there is an urgent need to establish a legal system to comprehensively protect the environment,” he said, providing the legislative body with a draft framework for the code.

Liu said that since 2017, she and her colleagues have placed great emphasis on research on the establishment of environmental norms, with the aim of contributing to the creation of a unified legal foundation for environmental law enforcement. .

“This move is also about promoting Chinese-style modernization through the rule of law,” she said.

After five years of effort, the Law Society’s Environmental and Resource Law Division has completed translations of the environmental codes of 11 countries, as well as five academic papers and more than 60 articles, she said, adding that “a deeper understanding… “Further efforts are being made to do so,” he added. She will continue her research.”

He suggested that the top of the legislative branch take the lead in formulating the norms and establish a team including members of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate to contribute to this effort.

In order to meet the growing public demand for clearer laws and regulations and strengthen national security, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee has included legislative items related to national security, people’s lives, start-ups, and overseas regions in its plans for the next five years. Included. .

Legislative Commission Spokesperson Yang Heqing said last month that 79 items will be submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for consideration, and another 51 items are in preparation and will be submitted if the investigation goes well. He added that it is planned to be done.

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