Strengthen Environmental Laws and Governance in China

A man protects himself against Beijing's air pollution by wearing a mask as he rides to work through the smog.

Credit: Jianghui Zhang/iStock

When industrial polluters contaminate rivers or pump dangerous emissions into the air, strong environmental laws can help rein them in and hold them accountable. In recent years, China has been toughening its laws and improving environmental information transparency, although enforcing these safeguards is not a quick job and needs persistent effort and public support.

Building on our extensive knowledge of U.S. environmental laws, NRDC has collaborated with many local Chinese partners to strengthen environmental law enforcement. We have provided technical and policy analyses and supported the training of judges, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations, and government staff. When China updates its major environmental laws or drafts new ones, NRDC experts often provide specific suggestions through China’s public commenting channels. We have offered input on the development and revision of legislation, such as the Environmental Protection Law, the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, and the Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law.

The public can lend helping hands to the government in fighting pollution, if people have access to the information they need to hold polluters accountable. Over the past 10 years, NRDC has joined leading Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun to produce an annual pollution transparency index that ranks more than 120 Chinese cities. We have also conducted workshops on best practices in information disclosure.

In the United States, when polluters refuse to follow the law, organizations like NRDC can sue on behalf of the public. China’s Environmental Protection Law of 2014 has made this possible for qualified Chinese NGOs. NRDC is often consulted for our international experience in this field. We have facilitated—and will be happy to continue to facilitate—international exchanges on environmental governance to help China succeed at pollution abatement and green transformation. 

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