Beheading Dragons – Streamlining China’s Environmental Governance


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In March, China’s National People’s Congress passed sweeping reforms to streamline environmental governance in order to more rapidly mitigate China’s crushing air, water, and soil pollution. Natural resource and pollution regulation have long been fragmented and managed by overlapping bureaucracies in China, leading to infighting and buck passing. The Chinese idiom “nine dragons rule the waters” (jiu long zhi shui) aptly captures how nine different government agencies have competed to regulate water. Under today’s reforms, China’s lead environmental watchdog – newly renamed Ministry of Ecological Environment (MEE) – will share water regulation with the Ministry of Water Resources, decreasing nine dragons to two. Another major dragon-slaying reform was to grant most regulatory power over climate change to MEE, a move that will require this newly reconfigured agency to become significantly more powerful than its earlier incarnation.

CEF has invited three speakers to unpack the drivers and impacts of this major reform in China. Liu Zhuoshi (Environmental Law Institute) will detail how legal and regulatory authorities around pollution and climate issues are changing. He will also reflect on hurdles Chinese government faces to expand these reforms at the subnational level. Hu Tao (WWF – U.S.) will explore how the new MEE could act more holistically to manage complex pollution issues, like a better coordination on the joint management of air pollution and carbon emission regulations. Liu Shuang (Energy Foundation China) will reflect on the implication of China’s recent governance reforms on efforts to create a national carbon emissions trading systems and what other policies and institutional changes are needed to make it succeed.

Location

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Woodrow Wilson Center - 5th Floor
Washington DC 20004

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