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Addressing Haze Weather with Legal Measures



Li Zuojun, DRC


China has a strong determination to control air pollution, and efforts have already paid off with the implementation of Environmental Protection Law. Due to reinforced environmental supervision, governments at various levels have adopted various measures including administrative means, market regulations, the rule of law, and moral imperatives to close down or suspend the operation of some enterprises with backward facilities in line with strict energy consumption and environmental protection standard. But there is still much room for improvement between the current results already achieved relating to air pollution control and China’s future targets.

The short-term effect of air pollution control is limited. China is now experiencing a swift process of industrialization and urbanization, with large quantities of resource consumption. Only when China enters the post-industrialization period with the slowdown of urbanization drive can the pressure of environmental pollution become eased. The coal-based energy mix has also added to air pollution. Being a “world factory”, China shoulders a heavy burden for pollution transfer in the world, and such a mode of global division of labor can’t be changed in a short time. In addition, it’s hard for China to promptly get rid of dependence on the extensive development model in face of a number of issues to be resolved. For instance, we need to reach a common understanding on pollution treatment and properly handle the relations between different stakeholders with appropriate legal measures.

The rule of law could propel major reforms like ecological civilization. Many measures relating to China’s ecological civilization system reform are formulated for addressing air pollution, some are related to market system including property right, market exchange, market price and market entity system, and some are related to government regulation system including incentive and restraint mechanism, supervision and control, and the assessment and accountability system. The treatment of haze weather boasts a number of measures whereas the most effective one is the rule of law including legislation, jurisdiction, and law enforcement.