August 9, 2012
View From the Bench: Strengthening Environmental Governance in China's Courts
The Environmental Law Institute
China Environment Forum, Woodrow Wilson Center
Vermont Law School
The battle to combat pollution in China is increasingly finding its way to Chinese courts. Recent class action and public interest lawsuits involving pollution victims are demonstrating how environmental artibration is becoming an important tool for tackling environmental issues.
To accommodate the growing number of pollution cases, Chinese courts are working to refine their expertise in environmental adjudication. For example, in 2007 local governments accelerated the creation of special environmental courts; today, China boasts nearly 90 such courts. To help fill gaps in environmental legal expertise among China’s judges, the National Judges College in Beijing has embarked on a training and curriculum development program together with Vermont Law School. This joint program includes 16 judges and one lawyer who take summer courses at Vermont Law School and then visit New York City, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.
CEF, Vermont Law School, and the Environmental Law Institute co-sponsored a meeting to explore emerging developments in environmental law in China. Three speakers from the National Judges College delegation discussed environmental cases they have overseen, while showcasing efforts to build the "green" capacity of those on the bench. ELI Senior Attorney, Bruce Myers, who has been involved in ELI’s longstanding Judicial Program and Siu Tip Lam from Vermont Law School moderated these presentations.
Cao Shibing, Vice President, National Judges College
Luo Guangqian, Judge, Environmental Tribunal of Qingzhen Municipal Court, Guizhou Province
Zhang Xianli, Judge, Shandong Qingdao Maritime Court
Bruce Myers, Environmental Law Institute
Siu Tip Lam, Vermont Law School