After 20 years of frantic development, the problem of environmental pollution has become the focus of what today constitutes a threat to national and public safety in China. A complete break with the past is now imperative. The 1989 Environmental Protection Law is being amended and debate on the relationship between economic development and environmental protection has been especially heated, all of which will directly affect the future development of the economy and society.
Through an analysis of the draft Bill to Amend the Environmental Protection Law, on which the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is seeking comment, the authors hope to establish the need for China to adopt the basic principle of prioritising environmental protection over GDP growth.
Environment v development
With respect to the above, revisions made to the first and fourth paragraphs of article 12 in the 2012 draft bill are the most significant. The first paragraph specifies that the State Council’s environmental protection authority, in concert with other relevant State Council authorities, will prepare the national environmental protection plans based on outlines of the plans for the development of the national economy and society.
Wang Jihong is the managing partner at V&T Law Firm; Shi Jie is a partner at V&T Law Firm
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