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U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law


Program Events

Partnership sponsors academic conferences, workshops and roundtables advancing China's environmental, energy and climate change laws and policies.

 

2012

 

LAWYER ROUNDTABLE

October 28, 2012 - Fuzhou, China

RoundtableThe U.S.-China Partnership, Beijing Huanzhu Law Firm, and Fuzhou University School of Law co-sponsored a half-day lawyer roundtable for lawyers in Fuzhou who are interested in developing environmental law practices and share lititgation experiences.  Adam Moser gave a brief introduction of Vermont Law School and gave a presentation on the U.S.-China Partnership and presented on the development of environmental courts and environmental public litigation.  CLAPV attorney, Dai Renhui, gave a comprehensive introduction of Beijing Huanzhu Law Firm and encouraged lawyers at the table to participate in the environmental lawyer network created by Huanzhu Law Firm, which will help bring up potential collaboration.  CLAPV attorney, Liu Jinmei, shared typical cases handled by Huanzhu Law Firm, which triggered vibrant discussion on issues such as the burden of proof on causation. Overall, the roundtable was a successful event, and Huanzhu Law Firm committed on building connections with NGOs and lawyers in Fuzhou.

 

LEADING LAW SCHOLARS GATHER TO DISCUSS ENVIRONMENTAL TORT REMEDIES

October 27 & 28, 2012 - Fuzhou, China

CSES conferenceOn October 27th and 28th, many of China's leading environmental law scholars, as well as scholars from the U.S. and Japan, gathered at Fuzhou University for the fourth annual conference of the Environmental Law Branch of the China Society of Environmental Sciences.  This year's conference was on environmental tort remedey systems, an important issue, especially to China.  Of all the cases brought before China's courts that involve the discharge of pollution, the majority are tort cases.  Thus, the ability of courts to provide adequate and just remedies in accordance with law is important to furthering environmental protection and environmental justice.  Keynot presentations highlighted: the need to clarify and improve procedures for determining liability through China's tort law; the underlying principles for determining remedies in environmental tort cases; and wether the U.S. experience of using tort law for the public interest can provide useful lessons for China.
For further information on this event, please check this Chinese article.   

 

CAPACITY BUILDING WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES

October 17, 2012 - Beijing, China

Yanmei Lin from the U.S.-China Partnership gave a presentation on China's Environmental Law Framework and Public Participation to 31 NGOs representatives working on river protection issues in a Capacity Building Workshop on Environmental Policies organized by International Rivers and Greenovation Hub.  Dai Renhui, attorney at Beijing Huanzhu Law Firm, gave a presentation to the same group of people on the New Development of Civil Procedure Law on Environmental Public Interest Litigation and some typical cases. 

 

COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE U.S.-CHINA PARTNERSHIP AND SOUTHWEST FORESTRY UNIVERSITY (SWFU) TO CREATE A "LEGAL ECOSYSTEM"

September 17-19, 2012 - Kunming, China

The Partnership is working with Southwest Forestry University in Kunming, Yunnan Province, to create a "legal ecosystem" that includes an environmental and biodiversity law clinic (EBLC) to serve environmental NGOs, communities and underserved citizens.  As a first of a kind environmental law advocacy center in Yunnan Province, the clinic will host workshops to educate and engage legislative reforms.  On September 17-19, 2012, the Partnership's program team traveled to Kunming and assisted SWFU to set up infrastructure for the clinic, discuss a workplan and develop strategies with local environmental NGOs to bring environmental public interest litigation to protect environmental rights of local communities.  EBLC will be officially launched in Mid-November 2012.

 

THE U.S.-CHINA PARTNERSHIP PROMOTES PROSECUTORIAL ENFORCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW IN CHINA

September 14, 2012 - Beijing, China

On September 14, USAID supported U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, in cooperation with the All China Environment Federation (ACEF), China's largest civil society environmental group, convened a workshop to discuss a high-level research report and provide recommendations for improving the role of the procuratorate, China's government prosecutors, in environmental public interest litigaton.  Increased environmental enforcement from the procuratorate would likely increase compliance, but currently, the procuratorate is rarely involved in environmental enforcement due to a lack of supporting law.  China's recently amended Civil Procedure Law expressly allows agencies and relevant organizations to bring litigation against acts of pollution that harm the public welfare or infringe on consumer interests.  This new revision may give prosecutors a new avenue to enforce environmental laws, however there is still a need to provide additional legislative clarification and support for the procuratorate's role.  With the Partnership's assistance, ACEF has submitted legislative recommendations to China's National People's Congress supporting related amendments in China's Environmental Protection Law.

 

WORKSHOP ON COMPARATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH LAW

September 8-9, 2012 - Guangzhou, China

The Partnership co-sponsored a workshop on environmental and public health law with SYSU and Uppsala University in Sweden on September 8 and 9, 2012, in Guangzhou. Titled "Comparative Workshop on Environmental and Public Health Law, Regulations and Remedies", the workshop was supported with a grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Research.  It brought together over 20 international and Chinese professors whoe primary research areas are environmental and public health policy, and offered a space in which to exchange ideas and develop future collaborative research projects.  The aim of this workshop was to foster academic discussion on the crucial relation between environmental law and the quality of public health, and explore linkages between domestic environmental harm and global public health concerns.  The workshop addressed such issues and made comparisons between different legal approaches in Europe (Sweden in particular), the US and China.  

 

IN DEPTH TRAINING OF SENIOR CHINESE JUDGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL ADJUDICATION AND LAW

July 23-August 16, 2012, Vermont, New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco
In recent years, many courts in China have established specialized courts to address the increasing severe environmental problems that often have transboundary effects.  However, the judges lack the knowledge of environmental law and the tools to render effective remedies.  To build their capacity, the Partnership organized a four-week study tour program, from July 23 through August 16, 2012, for twelve senior Chinese judges from eleven provinces and three instructors from China's National Judges College (NJC).

In the first two weeks, the judges attended full-day classes led by judges and professors in Vermont, including meetings with Vermont Supreme Court, Vermont Attorney General's office and the Department of Environmental Conservation.  The judges also travelled to the New York State Judicial Institute for a full-day of interaction with US judges.  In Washington DC, the judges presented on environmental adjudication in China, learned how environmental NGOs use the US Legal system, and spent a day with attorneys and judges from the USEPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) and the Department of Justice.  The judges also met with the USEPA's Region 9 office to discuss specific environmental cases the office has brought.

The participants learned, among other things, some of the tools and techniques American judges employ to resolve differences in expert witness evidence and how they tailor court orders, including both deterrent and remedial measures, to address specific environmental violations and harm in each case.  Throughout the program, participants discussed developing innovative ways to tailor some of these tools and  techniques they learned in the program to be applied and used in the Chinese context.  One of the instructors from the NJC will stay in the US for another two months to develop an environmental adjudication curriculum that would be used for training judges at the NJC and in other judicial training programs.

 

 

PRESENTATION ON HOW NGOs CAN USE CHINA'S LEGAL SYSTEM TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT

March 31, 2012 - Beijing, China
On March 31st, 2012, Greenpeace East Asia hosted a presentation by the Huanzhu Law Firm partner, Ms. Zhang Jingjing, who presented on potential approaches for NGOs to use China's legal system as a tool to protect the environment.  Greenpeace has several regional campaigns that are actively seeking to use China's court system to further their effectiveness and many of the questions raised went specifically to this issue.  Twenty Greenpeace employees attended the presentation and engaged in a vibrant discussion following Zhang Jingjing's presentation.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

March 29, 2012 - Beijing, China
Professor Tuholske represented the Partnership and VLS at a high-level international conference on China's climate change legislation on March 29, 2012.  The conference was hosted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and organized by China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) with the support from the British Embassy in China.  The gathering was attended by NRDC's Vice Minister, the British Ambassador and legislators from China's National People's Congress and State Council.  Under the invitation of NDRC, Professor Tuholske present on "The importance of Citizen Enforcement and the Elements if Effective Environmental Laws", which emphasized that effective environmental laws require governmental action and permit citizen enforcement.  He highlighted that it is only through these elements that the intent of legislation can be fulfilled.

 

LAWYER ROUNDTABLE ON ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC INTEREST LAW PRACTICE

March 27, 2012 - Kunming, China
On March 27, 2012, VLS in collaboration with Huanzhu Law Firm and the Beijing Yingke Law Firm (Kunming Branch) led a roundtable in Kunming, Yunnan to discuss environmental public and interest law practices.  The roundtable engaged 22 lawyers and NGO activists from Kunming and Beijing in a vibrant discussion on the strategies of building partnerships with the NGO and the science communities, critical legal issues hindering environmental enforcement cases, and the importance of building a network to enhance knowledge and resources of environmental lawyers.  As a result of the roundtable, participants will begin to build an environmental public interest lwayers network by first creating a listserve to share information.

Kunming was a strategic choice for the roundtable, as environmental courts in Yunnan province have been established at a rapid pace.  Additionally, Yunnan lawyers are increasingly interested in how to engage with these new environmental specific tribunals.

 

PRESENTATION ON FOREST MANAGEMENT

March 26, 2012 - Kunming, China
On March 26, 2012, VLS Professor Jack Tuholske gave a presentation on forest management in the U.S. for the students at the Southwest Forestry University in Kunming, Yunnan province.  A total of 83 undergraduate students from the Law Department, Botany Department, Transportation Department, Engineering Department, and Forestry Department attended the lecture.  Professor Tuholske's presentation covered the development of national forests in t he U.S., legal framework, and the Endangered Species Act and generated a good discussion that followed.

 

NGO ROUNDTABLE ON POLLUTION DISCHARGE DATABSES

March 23, 2012 - Beijing, China
On March 23, 3012, the Partnership in collaboration with Huanzhu Law Firm hosted a small NGO roundtable discussion led by Mr. Timothy Epp from the International Environmental Law Practice Group of USEPA's Office of General Counsel.  The roundtable focused on environmental rule of law in the U.S. and the USEPA's Toxic Release Inventory Program.  The target audience was a small group of senior and experienced environmental NGO activists, who are currently working to strengthen transparency and reporting of pollution and toxics in China.  Because thet attendees were environmental NGO professionals, the small roundtable format facilitated in-depth discussion that was very helpful to the attendees as they provide comments on China's drafting if new laws on toxic disclosure and a pollution discharge database.

 


2011

 

CARBON EMISSION TRADING TRAINING WORKSHOP

December 17, 2011 -  Guangzhou, China
On December 17, 2011, the Partnership and SYSU co-hosted a workshop on the legal frameworks for carbon emission trading in Guangzhou, Guangdong. Gunagdong Province is one of seven regions selected by the NAtional Development and Reform Commission 9NRDC) to develop a pilot carbon trading program by 2013.  Guangdong's gross domestic product is roughly that of Indonesia's and its population the size of Germany.  Developing a carbon trading system for Guangdong industries and power sector will contribute to efforts to address climate change.  The workshop brought together 47 experts from China, the EU, and the US to assist SYSU in this research effort.  The Partnership brought Max Dupuy, Economist and Regional Coordinator from the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), to present on the legal framework of US carbon emission trading schemes (ETSs).  Participants discussed existing legal frameworks for carbong trading systems with a focus on how to tailor existing experiences to China's unique circumstances and how the design of such a system might impact its interaction with international programs created to address climate change.  The workshop is part of the efforts to support SYSU professor LI Zhiping's research on the design of a carbon trading system for Guangdong Province, a project commissioned by the Guangdong Government.

 

CHOKE POINT CHINA TRAINING WORKSHOPS

December 13-16, 2011 - Beijing, China
China's per capita water resources are less than a quarter of the global average, and are internationally recognized dangerously low levels in parts of the country's heavily populated and industrialized north.  Energy demands are driving thermal power generation and coal mining into water scarce and drought-prone regions and increasing stress on ecosystems and communities.  In December 2011, the Partnership supported CEF in delivering three workshops to examine the energy and water nexus in China.  The workshops targeted government researchers, NGOs and business sectors.

On December 13, 2011, CEF presented to ten water and energy researchers at ENN Beijing office.  ENN is a private Chinese energy company and the nation's largest natural gas distributo.  The presentation brought to the participants' attention the significant impact of energy development upon water resources and its business implications.

On December 14, 2011, the Partnership together with CEF and the Ministry of Environmental Protection's Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) co-hosted a workshop in Beijing on addressing the impacts of energy use on water resources.  At the workshop, 25 Chinese researchers and policymakers discussed the need to do more to analyze the nexu between water resources and energy development in China, and discussed how certain energy efficiency measures that also offer the benefit of controlling emissions of multiple pollutants, including GHGs, might be used to address China's water and energy chokepoint.

On December 16, 2011, CEF presented to a group of 40 staff members from the Nature Conservancy (TNC) Beijing office and Greenpeace Beijing office.  After the presentation, the participants discussed how the energy and water nexus analysis could be a valuable area for TNC and Greenpeace to incorporate into both their water and energy programs.  The discussions also touched on how this new lens could be useful to enhance the NGO's programs in helping China to reduce its ecological footprints abroad.

 

PRESENTATION TO THE JIANGSU DEVELOPMENT AND REFORM COMMISSION

November 30, 2011 - Jiangsu, China
On November 30, 2011, Adam Moser gave a presentation to the Jiangsu Development and Reform Commission (DRC) on carbon emission control systems, including carbon tax and carbon trading.  Jiangsu Province's carbon emissions are the fifth highest amongst China's provinces.  China's central government had made carbon emission control a priority for provincial level governments; however the central government has provided little guidance as to how the provinces are to lower carbon intensity and fossil fuel consumption.  Thus, Jiangsu DRC in conjunction with Germany's technical development cooperation agency, GIZ, convened a workshop on carbon control policies.  Adam Moser's presentation focused on the significant differences between a carbon tax and carbon trading and compared real world experiences under both policies.  Participants gained an understanding of the current state of carbon tax and emission trading systems and discussed methods for addressing issues of industry competitiveness and the impact of higher energy prices on lower income households and small businesses.

 

THE 11th ANNUAL LAWYER TRAINING OF CLAPV

November 26-30, 2011 - Beijing, China
On November 26-30, 2011, the Partnership supported CLAPV in delivering a one-week training program for a total of 86 judges, lawyers and environmental officials on environmental advocacy and enforcement.  With the recent growth of environmental courts throughout China and the development of public interest environmental litigation practice, new leaders are emerging in both government and the private sector to fill the gap in environmental legal advocacy.  The training attracted young lawyers new to  the practice as well as new judges recently appointed to the environmental courts, and gave these practitioners the necessary technical background for understanding environmental cases.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PILOT TRAINING FOR CHINESE ENVIRONMENTAL COURTS JUDGES

November 8-10, 2011 - Kunming, China
In recent years, many courts in CHina have established specialized courts to address the increasing severe environmental problems that often have trans-boundary effects.  However, the judges lack the knowledge of environmental law and the tools to render effective remedies.  The Partnership has been actively leveraging local partnerships to empower Chinese judges in resolving environmental disputes.  We worked with the USEPA, several Chinese judges and CLAPV in developing a pilot training curriculum designed to giv ejudges the tools to adjudicate complex environmental cases.

On November 8-10, 2011, CLAPV and the Partnership in collaboration with the Southwest Forestry University (SWFU) facilitated an environmental adjudication workshop in Kunming, Yunnan Province, implementing the pilot training curriculum.  We trained 38 judges from 21 environmental courts.  The Honorable Susan Biro, USEPA's Chief Administrative Law Judge, and Mr. Tim Epp from USEPA's Environmental Appeals Board along with three senior Chinese judges and two scholars led the training.  Participants gained insights into the complexicity of environmental problems, tools for managing environmental cases, techniques for resolving differences in expert witness evidence, and ideas for innovative remedies, including penalties that would level the playing field.  Some judges shared experiences they had with public interest litigation brought by procuratorates, EPBs, and NGOs, which resulted in innovative compliance orders to remediate pollution.

 

THE FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW BRANCH OF THE CHINA SOCIETY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (CSES)

October 14-16, 2011 - Qingdao, China
On October 14-16, 2011, the Partnership co-sponsored the fourth annual conference of CSES's Environmental Law Branch in Qingdao city, Shandong Province.  Entitled "Environmental Legal Education and Ecological Civilization Rule of Law", the conference assembled 72 environmental scholars from mainland China, Hong-Kong, Japan, and the US.  Also in attendance was Mr. SUN Changyong, Deputy Director-General of Higher Education Department of Ministry of Education, whose opening remarks underscored the important role environmental law education has in building ecological civilization and promoting environmental protection in China.

To promote the development of environmental law education in China, on the afternoon of October 16, 2011, the Partnerhsip held a roundtable during the conference, engaging Deputy Director-General SUN Changyong and more than 20 profesors from different law schoolars to discuss the challenges and importance of making environmental law a required course in undergraduate legal educations in China.  According to the participants, promoting environmental law education in China is difficult because of the complexity of environmental law, the relatively short history of environmental law development in China, and the lack of teaching materials.  In addition, environmental law subject occupies a very small portion of the Chinese Bar exam, making up only two to six points of the 600 total points in the exam.  Moreover, student often feel that the current focus in environmental law teaching is overly theoretical and does not give the students sufficient practical experience.  The conclusion from the roundtable discussion is that training of competent professors and development of clinical education are of critical importance to the promotion of environmental law education in China.  The Partnership's work in this area is critical and it will continue to support this work. 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL JUDGES TRAINING CURRICULUM DESIGN WORKSHOP

June 30-July1, 2011 - Beijing, China
The U.S. judges and experts traveled to Beijing and held a two-day workshop on June 30 to July 1, 2011, with four senior Chinese legal scholars, four environmental judges and one judge from Wuhan City Intermediate Court.  This workshop identified key topics and teaching methods to be used in developing the curriculum.  Out of this group, a task force was formed to transform the discussions into a curriculum over the next 3-4 months.  The group proposed to hold the first three-day pilot training in November 2011 to implement the draft curriculum.

 

ROUNDTABLE ON ENVIRONMENTAL ADJUDICATION SKILLS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COURT JUDGES

June 28-29, 2011 - Kunming, China
On June 28-29, 2011, in collaboration with the Partnership, Yunnan People's Hight Court hosted two roundtable meetings, where a total of thirteen Yunnan judges exchanged ideas with judges and experts from the US, including Judge Kathie Stein, Judge Anna Wolgast, and senior attorney Timothy Epp from the Environmental Appeals Board of the USEPA, and Judge Merideth Wright from Vermont Environmental Court.  Participants also discussed the assessment of damages in an environmental litigation.  Participants also discussed the assessment of damages in an environmental case, clean-up standards, post-litigation remedies, and the assignment of the responsability to implement clean-up and restoration projects.  The Chinese judges commented that the experiences shared by the US experts reassured them about the soundness of the innovative approaches they have adopted in adjudicating environmental cases and taught them other innovative methods they may want to consider in reforming China's civil and administrative procedures.  The roundtables helped US experts identify training needs for Chinese environmental court judges and understand the challenges the Chinese judges faced in case intake and in evaluating scientific evidence.

 

WORKSHOP ON WATER POLLUTION PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION

June 27, 2011 - Guangzhou, China
On June 27, 2011, Guangzhou Maritime Court, Sun Yat-Sen University and the Partnerhsip convened a roundtable on Environmental Disputes Resolution: Adjudication and Mediation, led by USEPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) Judge Kathie Stein, Judge Anna Wolgast, and EAB senior attorney Timothy Epp, as well as Judge Merideth Wright from the Vermont Environmental Court.  In total, 39 judges, clerks, and scholars, including the President and three vice presidents from Guangzhou Maritime Court, participated in the roundtable.  Over an intensive half day event, the international and Chinese judges and experts shared experience on using mediation as an alternative to environmental dispute adjudication.  Other topics discussed included the recent development of water pollution public interest cases filed before the Guangzhou Maritime Court, different claims that arose from the BP oil spill, US clean up orders, and the US concept of ordering the polluters to forfeit the economic benefits they reaped from their illegal actions.

 

PRESENTATION ON VERMONT ENVIRONMENTAL COURT, ADJUDICATION SKILLS AND JUDICIAL ETHICS

April 14, 2011 - Beijing, China
On April 14, 2011, with the support of the China Partnership, Vermont Supreme Court Associate Justice John A. Dooley lectured to a class of sixteen Chinese senior appeals court judges, who were in continuing professional training at China's National Judges College in Beijing.  Justice Dooley shared his experience handling cases in an environmentally conscious state - the only state in the United States with a specialized Environmental Court.  In addition to engaging the Justice on substantial issues related to environmental law, the Chinese judges gained substantial insights into the desirability of an indepedent judiciary from a judge's perspective and the stature and respect that it affords upstanding jurists.

 

CHOKE POINT CHINA PRESENTATIONS

April 1-15, 2011 - Beijing, Shanghai, and Yinchuan, China
The Partnership and the China Environment Forum (CEF) collaborated on a series of workshops on energy and water held at numerous institutions in China.  The workshops were a part of a comprehensive dissemination program for Choke Point: China, a collaborative project between CEF, Circle of Blue (CoB), and the Partnership.  The project included research and reporting on how China has managed to fuel its march to global economic dominance despite steadily declining reserves of clean fresh water and the future challenges China's water shortage poses to its energy development plans.  CoB and CEF dispatched teams of researchers and photographers to fifteen provinces to undertake an assessment of China's energy and water infrastructure, as well as national, provincial, and municipal energy and water policies and practices.  This project built on a parallel research initiative by CoB that examined the impact of energy development on US freshwater resources.

The Partnership represented by Adam Moser, along with CEF and CoB, presented on the findings of the Choke Point China project at the US Embassy on April 1, 2011 during an energy and water conference for US government staff.  Adam Moser facilitated the presentation and provided useful information on China's energy needs and development plans, and added context to the discussion.  Then the team delivered a series of workshops in Beijing, Shanghai and Yinchuan to a total of 277 government officials, scholars, lawyers, researchers, and NGOs on the impact of energy development on water resources.

 

HUANZHU LAW FIRM LAUNCH EVENT

March 25, 2011 - Beijing, China
One of the Partnership's Chinese partners, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), launched the Huanzhu (Environmental Aid) Law Firm, in March 2011.  This is China's first environmental public interest law firm, and it will provide legal services to pollution victims, educate the public about available legal  tools to secure their rights, and use case-based research to improve environmental legislation.  The firm opens at a time when China's legal system is increasingly promoting the use of public participation through litigation as a means of enhancing enforcement of its environmental laws.  During the launch event, a representative from China's Ministry of its environmental laws.  During the launch event, a representative from China's Minstry of Environmental Protection said, "Lawyers have an important role to play in increasing public participation and in providing legal services to citizens."

 

TRAIN-THE-TEACHERS TRAINING PROGRAM

February 28-March 4, 2011 - Wuhan, China
The Partnership sponsors academic conferences, workshops and to address the lack of experienced environmental law teachers and to foster a new generation of environmental lawyers and advocates, VLS, in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature Academy (IUCN) of Environmental Law and the Research Institute of Environmental Law of Wuhan University (RIEL), conducted a pilot training project in Wuhan, Hubei Province.  This advanced "Train-The-Teachers" course trained 24 law professors from 20 different cities across China.  It provided them with the skills and knowledge to design and deliver high quality courses in environmental law to law students as well as colleagues who have not previously taught environmental law.  The workshop included a field trip to Yangluo Power Plant and an e-waste recycling plant in Wuhan. 

The trainers included Professor Mark Latham of VLS, Professor Li Zhiping of SYSU, Professor Rob Fowler of the University of South Australia (And Chair of the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy), Professor Ben Boer of the University of Sydney, Professors Wang Shuyi and Qin Tianbao from Wuhan University, and Professor Zhou Ke from Renmin University.  Yanmei Lin from the Partnership also attended the workshop and provided interpretation and logistical support.

 

VJEL SYMPOSIUM

March 2, 2011 - Vermont
Vermont Journal of Environmental Law (VJEL) and the Partnership jointly organized the VJEL annual symposium.  Titled "China's Environmental Governance: Global Challenges and Comparative Solutions", the symposium hosted well respected environmental and energy law scholars from the US and China for a day of discussion concerning current and prospective mechanisms for addressing pressing environmental issues including climate change and energy needs facing the two countries, and how the two countries can work with each other to advance environmental governance.  Professor John Copeland Nagle of University of Notre Dame delivered the keynote address.  Other distinguished American scholars include Professor Robert Percival, University of Maryland; Dr. Jennifer Turner, CEF; Professor Patricia McCubbin, Southern Illinois University.  Distinguished Chinese scholars included Professor Wang Canfa, CUPL; Professor Li Zhiping, SYSU; Professor Li Yanfang, Renmin; and attorney Zhang Jingjing, Deputy Director for PILnet (Formerly known as the Public Interest Law Institute).

Two panels discussed comparative approaches to environmental issues in the administrative and judicial realms.  A third panel examined the respective approaches to climate change and energy in the United States and China.  The symposium provided a great platform for the US and Chinese scholars to address most important environmental and energy issues confronting the two countries.

During the symposium, VLS Dean Shields presented Professor Li Zhiping, our longstanding partner, with an honorary Distinguished Lecturer in Environmental Law title for her academic excellence in teaching and her contribution to the partnership between VLS and SYSU.  On behalf of the Partnership, Adam Moser was interviewed on the Mark Johnson radio show (WDEV) about the VJEL symposium and environmental governance issues in China.

 

 2010

 

CLAPV's ANNUAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW TRAINING

November 12-17, 2010 - Beijing and Guangzhou, China
With the support of the Partnership, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) conducted a one-week annual training for Chinese Lawyers, judges, and government officials involved in environmental enforcement and adjudication.  The workshop aimed to provide the participants with up-to-date information about China's environmental laws and their enforcement, the development and importance of environmental standards, current environmental litigation practices including collection of evidence in support of a claim, application of alternative dispute resolution in environmental disputes , environmental public interest litigation, and environmental courts.  The workshop included a half day session on case analysis to train this participants on how to apply the knowledge they learned to actual cases.

 

CONFERENCE ON THE ROLE OF PROSECUTORS IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ENFORCEMENT 

May 9-10 &14, 2010 - Beijing and Guangzhou, China
USAID, DOJ, and EPA assist China's Supreme People's Procuratorate and Guangzhou Municipal Procuratorate in identifying opportunities for enhancing their criminal and civil environmental enforcement role.

Low levels of enforcement of environmental laws, including lack of involvement by governement prosecutors in en vironmental enforcement, remain among the key environmental governance challenges in China.  In order to enhance prosecutorial participation in enforcement, USAID's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law co-hosted workshops at the National Prosecutors College in Beijing on May 11-12, 2010 and at the Guangzhou Municipal Procuratorates on May 14, 2010 to identify opportunities to enhance civil and criminal enforcement.  Both events demonstrated best practices, explored legal ambiguities, and explained institutional empediments, and identified potential solutions, which officials will consider in the future formulation of policies in this regard.

The Beijing workshops brought together senior officials from the US Department of Justice Environment Division, US EPA, and prosecutors from China's Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and prosecutors from various local and provincial jurisdictions, NGO representatives, and leading environmental law scholars to share best practices and experiences.  Participants included Principal Deptuy Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Patrice Simms, EPA Region 8 Counsel Robert Ward, Beijing USAID Representative Jennifer Adams, Vice President of the Supreme People's Procuratorate Sun Qian, Dean of National Prosecutors College Shi Shaoxia, Deputy Director of the Supreme People's Court's Reasearch Office, and the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection Policy and Regulation Division Bie Tao.  The Guangzhou workshop included the American officials and the Deputy Chief Procurator of Guangzhou City as well as section deputy directors.

Chinese media coverage: Procuratorial Daily, China Environment News

 

2009

ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CLINICS IN CHINA PROJECT

December 9&12, 2009 - Beijing and Guangzhou, China
The Environmental Law Clinics in China Project, sponsored by USAID and Vermont Law School, is designed to assist in the development and promotion of clinical legal education in China.  Clinical legal education is critical to training future environmental problem solvers and strengthening China's environmental bar.  Law clinics can also provide needed legal services to marginalized people and be a pragmatic tool that helps enforce China's laws.  However, clinical legal education in China faces many barriers.  The report draws on workshops held in China regarding the status of law clinics in China and provides insight into the challenges facing law clinics in China, as well as proposals for dealing with them.

Download the Environmental Law Clinics in China Project: Workshop Report 1

 

USAID AND VERMONT LAW SCHOOL SUPPORT CLAPV'S 10th ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION AND LEGAL AID

November 7-8, 2009 - Beijing, China
The Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), China's premier environmental legal NGO, hosted a conference on environmental legal aid and litigation to highlight ten-years of its environmental hotline and work.  CLAPV's founder, Wang Canfa, pioneered the use of environmental litigation in China to stop polluters and win compensation for victims.  A large and diverse crowd attended the conference's opening ceremony.  Over 300 lawyers, NGO leaders, professors and government employees attended.  Nine panels on different facets of public interest environmental law were offered to participants.

 

USAID AND VLS SUPPORT THE SECOND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW BRANCH OF THE CHINA SOCIETY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

October 18, 2009 - Beijing, China
On October 17-18, 2009, the Partnership co-sponsored the second annual conference of the Environmental Law Branch of the China Society for Environmental Sciences (CSES), in Beijing, along with Peking University Law School.  The two-day event culminated in awards recognizing the top tem papers and books from environmental law scholars around the country, covering such topics as citizens' environmental rights under civil law, the protection of Western China's ecology, remedies for ecological damage, and the role of property law in environmental protection.  Professor Li Zhiping from SYSU, an implementing partner of this program, won an award for her paper on public interest litigation by European environmental NGOs.  The conference and award help institutionalize a domestic system for the pursuit and recognition of sophistication and excellence in environmental policy analysis and research in China.

 

USAID AND EPA ROUNDTABLE ENGAGE CHINESE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ON ENVIRONMENTAL LITIGATION AND ROLE OF ENVIRONMENTAL COURTS

October 15, 2009 - Beijing, China
The Partnership led a roundtable in Beijing with the Environmental Appeals Boaards of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), representatives from China's Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, and the China University of Political Science and Law.  Over the past year, China has focused on the creation of environmental courts as a response to serious pollution issues.  However, the design and operation of these courts to effectively administer their specialized jurisdiction and case load have remained a challenge to their effectiveness.  The workshop shared the experience of EPA's Environmental Appeals Board and opportunities for assistance to their China counterparts.  This roundtable discussion followed other workshops by the Partnership in May and July 2009 focusing on Environmental Courts issues.

 

CARL YIRKA, DIRECTOR OF THE CORNELL LIBRARY AT VLS, ORGANIZED A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP FOR LAW LIBRARIAN

June 2&5, 2009 - Guangzhou and Beijing, China
Professor Yirka organized and led workshops on environmental materials and law libraries on June 2nd at CUPL, in Beijing, and led a similar workshop on June 5th and SYSU, in Guangzhou.  The goal of the workshops was to provide Chinese librarians and scholars with knowledge of the highest quality English language environmental law materials available by subscription and for free on the Internet and to discuss other matters of joint interest.  Nineteen librarians and faculty from CUPL (Beijing), Tsingua University Law School (Beijing), Huadong University of Technology Law School (Shanghai), SYSU (Guangzhou), and South China University of Technology Law School (Guangzhou) participated.  These two workshops will benefit not only those in attendance; participating scholars and librarians were provided with materials that they can use as teaching aids for their faculty colleagues and law students. 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL COURTS AND LITIGATION WORKSHOPS

May 22&23, 2009 - Beijing, China
May 19, 2009 - Guangzhou, China
The Partnership held a set of workshops focused on environmental courts and litigation in Guangzhou and Beijing.  The workshops were focused on sharing the experiences of environmental court judges in Vermont, Australia, and the Phillipines with judges in China.  The foreign courts were represented by Judge Maria Cecilia I. Austria of Batangas city court (Phillipines), Justice Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court (Australia), and Judge Merideth Wright of the Vermont Environmental Court (USA).

In Guangzhou, the workshop was organized by the Guangdong Judges Association and SYSU together with VLS and focused on options for enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of Guangdong judges at all levels to handle environmental litigation.  In addition to the foreign judges, other presenters included Vice President of the Guangdong Judges Association Tan Ling who presided over the workshop, Vice President of the Guangzhou Maritime Court Zhan Simin, Section Chief Zheng Zewen of the Policies and Regulations Department of the Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau, and Professor Li Zhiping of SYSU.  The audienceof the workshop included both judges from the Guangdong People's High Court, the various Intermediate People's Couts of Guangzhou City, Foshan City, Jiangmen City, and Dongguan City, as well as environmental law scholars and students from Guangzhou.

In Beijing, the workshop was co-sponsored by the National Judges College (NJC) and the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) of CUPL together with VLS.  In addition to considering environmental litigation issues generally, the Beijing Workshop also focused on issues and options for enhancing the effectiveness of newly created environmental courts in Kunming City (Yunnan province), Guiyang City (Guizhou province), and Wuxi City (Jiangsu province).  The three foreign judges presented their experiences and raised options for addressing some of the challenges of the three new environmental courts.  Presenters on the three Chinese environmental courts were judge Zeng Zhen of the Guiyang Court, Judge Yuan Xuehong of the Kunming Court, Vice Director Wang Suli of the Law and Policy Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Director Guan Yi of the International Cooperation Department of the National Judges College, Judge Guan Li of the Supreme People's Court, and judges of the National Judges College, and scholars and students from CUPL.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE ROUNDTABLE

May 13, 2009 - Guangzhou, China
The Partnership led a roundtable on environmental governance at SYSU together with SYSU law school and the Institute for Sustainable Communities.  The workshop included presentations by Jingjing Liu about the VLS-SYSU Partnership, an overview by Professor Li Zhiping about SYSU's environmental law program with a focus on the positive impacts of USAID funding on capacity enhancements at SYSU, and a presentation by Professor Gu Dejin on Chinese Environmental NGOs and the challenges of environmental information and relevant legal tools to effectively participate in environmental decision making.  Finally, Laura Ediger addressed issues of corporate environmental responsability with a focus on the implementation of China's Environmental Information Disclosure Act.

 

CONFERENCE ON PUBLIC INTERESTLITIGATION AND STANDING ISSUES RELATED TO WATER POLLUTION IN SOUTHERN CHINA

May 13, 2009 -- Guangzhou, China
USAID and DOJ assisted the Guangzhou Maritime Court in Developing Public Interest Litigation Policies Related to Water Pollution Cases.  China's severe water pollution problems have posed some of the most serious environmental governance challenges.  While there has been some important innovation and cutting-edge efforts to use environmental public interest litigation cases has been successful in some provinces, including in Guangdong Province, uncertainty about the standing of NGOs and the procuratorate to bring such cases, the measurement of damages, litigation fees, and other procedural issues in the courts remain significant impediments to an increased role in solving water pollution issues.  A May 13, 2010 workshop at the Guangzhou Maritime Courtm co-sponsored by USAID's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law with the Marine Transportation and Maritime Law Committee of China, helped China's judges, prosecutors, and lawyers formulate potential new rules to guide public interest litigation in water pollution cases.

Participants included in the workshop included senior officials from the US Department of Justice Environment Division (DAAGs Dreher and Simms), US EPA, judges from the Guangzhou Maritime Court (including the President of the Maritime Court), the Supreme People's Court, the Kunming Environmental Court, and other provincial courts, as well as leading environmental law scholars.