The Great Wall of China at sunset. ClientEarth question what are Governments in Asia doing to tackle air pollution

What are governments doing to tackle air pollution in Asia?

Asia is home to some of the most polluted countries in the world. Air pollution continues to worsen in cities across the continent, presenting a serious threat to human health.

What are governments doing to address air pollution and change Asia’s fate? Has the judiciary addressed these injustices?

That was the question being considered by lawyers from across the world at a conference session in Sri Lanka last week.

Organised by LawASIA at their Golden Jubilee Conference in Colombo, the session discussed whether Asia cared about clearing the air.

Present was Amy Rose, ClientEarth’s Head of Strategic Litigation. She detailed ClientEarth’s successful case brought and won against the UK Government at the Supreme Court on air pollution last year.

She explained how this model is now being rolled out across Europe and discussed how it may be relevant to air quality cases brought in countries in Asia.

Making reference to ClientEarth’s scoping projects in China, Amy said:

“As the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the largest consumer of coal, China faces severe domestic air pollution problems.

“The Chinese Government has a unique opportunity to take action, to build an ‘ecological civilization.”

New and ambitious environmental laws have been implemented in China to tackle serious air pollution. Legislation is now being drafted on emission trade and climate change.

ClientEarth’s CEO James Thornton is among those who have been helping to train senior judges in China, which has established environmental tribunals to allow polluters to be taken to court.

The Sri Lanka conference considered various aspects of environmental law throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth are returning to High Court in the UK in October to challenge the government’s inadequate air quality plan.

The international not-for-profit law group is also launching a similar wave of cases throughout Europe in the coming weeks and has launched an appeal for donations to help fund the challenges.

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Michael Levine-Clark