China / Hot Issues

Top court calls for more judicial efforts on environmental protection

By ZHENG JINRAN ( Updated: 2015-03-28 18:01

China has made some progress in environmental judicial protection due to a series of measures, including tougher punishment on pollution violators and a lowered threshold for green NGOs, the top court said on Saturday.

Also, the top court will strengthen the exchanges on judicial practices regarding environmental protection and improve cooperation with other membercountries in BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - to help these judicial bodies more efficiently handle pollution cases.

In 2014, China made more effort to improve the judicial system for environmental protection, including setting up special courts to handle cases involving the environment and resources and to tighten efforts against pollution crimes.

In 2014, courts nationwide set up 382 green tribunals, Xi Xiaoming, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court of China, said on Saturday.

Last year, 1,188 cases involving environmental pollution were filed last year, an increase of 690 percent year-on-year, playing a bigger role in deterring and punishing polluters, the vice-president said. Along with firm actions against pollution from the judicial system, non-governmental environmental protection organizations have embraced streamlined policies to sue polluting companies.

The top court in January 2015 released judicial explanation documents to allow more green NGOs to participate in environmental public interest litigation, to lower the threshold of green NGOs and reduce their financial burden in lawsuits.

Currently, more than 700 such organizations are qualified to file environmental public interest litigation, Xi said.

China has achieved some accomplishments in the judicial system for environmental protection, yet with challenges, such as the judges need to learn more about pollution, he said.

At every BRICS summit, environmental protection and sustainable development were placed at the top of the agenda and incorporated into the outcome documents, because BRICS countries are rapidly growing. There is a pressing need to balance their economic development and environmental protection, Xi said.

"We will take the opportunity of hosting the forum to enhance the exchanges with the courts in other member countries in trials related to the environment and resources," he said.

The Environmental Judicial Protection has been a major topic during the BRICS Justices Forum, held Saturday in Sanya, Hainan province, Top courts of the five member countries attended the event to share their practices on curbing pollution via the judicial system.

The BRICS countries' total population approached 3 billion in 2014, and they have grown into a powerful force in the emerging markets.

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