people’s republic of china

by peter heinlein

 

POPULATION:  1,330,044,544 (July 2008 est.).


AREA:  9,596,960 sq km (total); 9,326,410 sq km (land); 270,550 sq km (water).


PRINCIPAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: 

Air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; deforestation; estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural land since 1949 due to soil erosion and economic development; desertification; trade in endangered species.


PRINCIPAL SOURCES OF ENERGY (2005):

Coal.  Coal makes up 69% of China’s total primary energy consumption, and China is both the largest producer and the largest consumer of coal in the world.  China is the sixth-largest net importer of coal in the world.

Petroleum.  China has been a net importer of oil since 1993 and is the world’s third-largest net importer of oil behind the United States and Japan.

Natural Gas.  Although natural gas consisted of only about 3% of China’s GDP in 2004, this figure is expected to rise steadily in coming years.  China is a net importer of natural gas.


CO2 EMISSIONS (2005):

Total CO2 Emissions: 5,060 million tons, 2nd highest in the world behind the United States.  [Note that according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (“NEAA”) China surpassed the United States in total CO2 emissions by 8% in 2006.]

Per Capita CO2 Emissions: 3.9 tons per person, 16th in the world.


RANKING ON 2006 ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE INDEX:  105th (65.1).


POLITICAL FREEDOM RANKING: 

Political Rights Score: 7.

Civil Liberties Score: 6.

Status: Not Free.


PRINCIPAL NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS & REGULATIONS:

Environmental Protection Law (1979); Law on Water Pollution Protection & Control (1984); Law on Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution (1987, amended 1995 and 2000); Environmental Protection Law (1989); Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste (1995, amended 2002); Law on the Prevention and Control of Pollution from Commercial Noise (1996); Law on Energy Conservation (1998); Implementing Rules on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution (2000); Law on the Prevention of Desertification (2001); Environmental Impact Assessment Law (2002); Law on the Promotion of Clean Production (2002); Law on the Prevention and Control of Radioactive Pollution (2003); Renewable Energy Law (2005); 11th 5-Year Plan for Environmental Protection (2007); Water Pollution Control Law (2008); Environmental Information Disclosure Regulations (2008); Circular Economy Law (2008).


CITIZEN SUIT PROVISIONS:

Neither the Chinese environmental laws nor any administrative procedure law allows Chinese citizens to bring an enforcement action against the government or an administrative agency.


CONSTITUTION (ratified 1982):

Article 26:  “The state protects and improves the living environment and the ecological environment, and prevents and controls pollution and other public hazards.  The state organizes and encourages afforestation and the protection of forests.”


GOVERNMENT AGENCIES WITH PRIMARY ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION RESPONSIBILITIES: 

Ministry of Environmental Protection; Ministry of Health; Ministry of National Land Resources.


PROTECTED AREAS (2003):

Nature Reserves, Wilderness Areas, and National Parks:  44,939 ha.

Natural Monuments, Species Management Areas, and Protected Landscapes and Seascapes:  15,548 ha.

Areas Managed for Sustainable Use and Unclassified Areas:  12,267 ha.

Total Land Area:  959,696 ha. 


INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL TREATIES:

Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP); Antarctic Treaty System; Convention on Biological Diversity; Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Convention on Desertification; Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal; UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; London Marine Dumping Convention; Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol); International Tropical Timber Agreement of 1983; Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling.


SOURCES FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: 

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html);

Ministry of Environmental Protection (http://english.mep.gov.cn/);

Chinese Environmental Law Blog (http://www.chinaenvironmentallaw.com/);