Six important environmental cases
A round-up of the key verdicts shaping China’s Environmental Protection Law Since China introduced its Environmental Protection Law in January 2015, environmental NGOs have spent almost two years testing it through a succession of public interest environmental lawsuits.
So far, the courts have accepted 189 public interest environmental cases, of which 60% were brought by environmental NGOs.
Verdict – The court found in favour of Taizhou Environmental Federation, the social organisation which brought the case, ordering six companies to pay a total of 160 million yuan (US$23 million) in compensation, as well as 100,000 yuan (US$14,500) in assessment costs.
Unfortunately, this didn’t stop eight chemical firms from using the desert as a dump for polluted waste water.
The court refused to hear the case on the grounds that the NGO was not “active in environmental public interest activities”, which they successfully appealed in the Supreme People’s Court.
Verdict –In its judgement the Supreme People’s Court said “active in environmental public interest activities” was not just limited to direct involvement in improving the environment but included other activities that benefit environmental governance such as public education, legal aid and bringing public interest lawsuits.
To force the company to stop, the All-China Environmental Federation, an NGO under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, sued the company.
Groundwater without borders: Three Gorges water pollution case When a firm in Hubei started illegal mining operations, waste water and tailings soon began flowing directly into the Qianzhangyan Reservoir, an important source of drinking water for two provinces.
The All-China Environmental Federation requested a court order to stop the illegal farming.
This caused pollution and forced the neighbouring administration to take the township to court Verdict – The plaintiff won.