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Public to play bigger role in environmental protection

Zheng Jinran
Updated: Jul 23,2015 10:04 AM     China Daily

The first regulation covering public participation in environmental protection issues has been released by the national environmental watchdog.

The regulation, which will take effect on Sept 1, will guarantee public supervision of the authority.

People have shown increased enthusiasm for environmental protection in recent years, but some have joined related events “blindly” and have overreacted, causing chaos in some cases, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The new Regulation on Public Participation in Environmental Protection will provide legal channels to help them take part in environmental issues and offer them clearer information, the ministry said.

If local governments and environmental protection authorities fail to perform their duties, individuals, social organizations and companies are encouraged to report them to higher authorities.

The regulation states that environmental watchdogs at all levels should support public-interest litigation from nongovernmental organizations in accordance with the law, and finance this through their services.

Ma Yong, a researcher working at a law center under the national top court’s environmental tribunal, said, “It’s the first time that a government regulation has stipulated supporting public-interest litigation.”

This demonstrated the authorities’ determination to lead and expand public participation and supervision of the environment to maximize efforts to curb pollution, he said.

He said that green NGOs are expected to receive financial support from the authorities, which could fuel their growth, since many of them are restricted by weak spending power.

Guo Yongqi, the leader of a green NGO in Shandong province, applauded the first special regulation on public participation, saying it would protect people’s safety and legal rights when they carry out research and help with supervision of pollution.

“We were surrounded by people from a polluting company for hours when we tested for water pollution outside their plant,” he said.

“I hope that governments can find better ways to cooperate with green NGOs and individuals to strengthen public supervision,” he added.

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