Environmental law has a huge role to play in cutting pollution and protecting the natural world.

ClientEarth has been helping the Chinese government draft new laws, train judges and support environmental groups to bring cases against polluting companies and local authorities.

18

We have supported 18 Chinese NGOs

80k

80,000 environmental public interest cases have been brought by Chinese prosecutors across the country in 2020 alone.

1200

We have trained 1,200 judges and prosecutors to date (2021)

16

We have supported the drafting of 16 environmental laws and regulations in China so far

What we do

ClientEarth’s China office was established in Beijing in 2016. We are the only NGO in China to focus primarily on environmental law. In China, ClientEarth works closely with progressive actors within the government to take stronger action on climate and the environment by using the power of the law. We work with China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate and other government actors, to draft better laws and regulations, train environmental judges and prosecutors, provide financial support to local NGOs, work to green China’s overseas investment and trade, and support the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue. In June 2017, ClientEarth became the first European NGO in China to be registered with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. ClientEarth’s China programme has five main strands of work:

Providing legal support to China’s climate transition

One of the key ways we make an impact is by supporting the drafting and implementation of environmental laws. Our current priority is integrating climate considerations into China’s legal framework, to underpin China’s transition to carbon neutrality. We do this by cooperating closely with lawmakers, and through key platforms including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment (CCICED), and the Belt and Road Initiative Green Development Coalition (BRIGC). In addition to focusing on emissions within China, we support the development of systems and standards to ‘green’ and decarbonise China’s overseas investments and trade. We also engage with China’s largest financial institutions to mitigate climate risks, and accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels.

Providing legal support to nature conservation and restoration

We provide strategic recommendations on biodiversity policy and law to the Chinese government; support the development and implementation of the post-2020 global framework for biodiversity; ; and explore legal pathways to reduce deforestation and other biodiversity impacts of China’s overseas trade. We have offered feedback on the drafts of a number of laws, including the Environmental Protection Law, the National Pollutant Discharge Permitting Regulation, the Forest Law and the Yangtze River Protection Law, and some of our recommendations have been incorporated into the legislation.

Capacity development of environmental judges and prosecutors

Following a huge nation-wide pilot programme, in March 2019 the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China (similar to the attorney general in the US) formally established specialised departments for public interest litigation. Two thirds of the cases they bring are related to the environment. We work closely with the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate to develop the capabilities of environmental judges and public interest prosecutors, through trainings, case forums, international workshops, overseas trainings and study tours, international comparative research and recommendations, linking with international networks of environmental judges and prosecutors, developing handbooks and online training materials, and conducting joint studies to further raise the effectiveness of China’s public interest litigations for the environment.

Supporting Chinese environmental NGOs

Civil society plays a key role in advancing environmental rule of law, but Chinese environmental NGOs have very limited access to funding. For this reason, we have co-established and continue to develop the Environmental NGO Capacity Building Fund to provide vital financial support to Chinese environmental NGOs, supported by international and Chinese philanthropic foundations. Through the fund, we have provided grants to 18 Chinese environmental NGOs, ensuring stronger public supervision in environmental matters.

Supporting EU-China Environmental and Climate Cooperation

ClientEarth has been an implementing partner in the EU-China Environment Project, established in 2018 with funding from the European Commission to foster policy integration and collaboration between China and the EU. The project carried forward a series of exchange activities on environmental protection and the green economy, bringing together policymakers and researchers from both sides.

China’s people and its government are fed up with pollution. The system of environmental law is being revamped, and ClientEarth helps to make it as effective as possible in protecting the planet.
Dimitri De Boer, Chief Representative for China