Ministry Embarks on Enforcement Inspection Campaigns
In the beginning of May, the Ministry of Environmental Protection embarked on a substantial environmental inspection campaign. The campaign will focus on evaluating officials’ enforcement efforts in 28 cities in provinces surrounding Beijing and Tianjin.
The campaign will involve 5,600 inspectors and will run all the way until March 2018. The aim of this campaign is to evaluate and encourage better law enforcement among officials in areas where air pollution is particular severe. Officials found to be lax with enforcing environmental policies and standards, could be “punished” by receiving lower ratings in the government’s personnel evaluation system or be demoted or fired. For severe cases of lax enforcement, officials could also become subjects to criminal charges.
As noted by Paul Davies and Andrew Westgate at Latham & Watkins Law Office (London and New York), “Name and shame” campaigns are a common strategy used by authorities in China to discourage and violations of enacted laws and regulations. On environmental issues, a similar campaign occurred in December last year, with close to 500 officials in Hebei province being publicly shamed and punished for their enforcement failures.
These campaigns directed come in addition to the Environmental Protection Law, which came into force in December 2014, that allows for daily fines for emissions violations, and administrative and criminal penalties for government officials who fail to enforce environmental regulations.
Featured image: South China Morning Post (SCMP), 2016