For the last several weeks technical problems have prevented me from posting on my blog at www.globalenvironmentallaw.com, but regular weekly posts have been made on this blog. I started making parallel posts on these two blogs while teaching in China three years ago because sometimes one site or the other is blocked by the great Chinese firewall. When I was in China during the last week this blogspot site was blocked, while the other site was working. Having just arrived back in the U.S. I am posting to this site the post I made on the other site earlier in the week while in China.
I have had a wonderful time in China since arriving on May 10. On Wednesday night May 11 I had dinner in Beijing with Alan Miller, one of the co-authors of my environmental law casebook, who was in town to work on energy efficiency guidelines for the Chinese cement industry on behalf of the International Finance Corporation. On Thursday May 12 my son Richard and I went to the Summer Palace and the Great Wall. Due to high winds we were forced to go to the Badaling part of the Great Wall, but the winds cleared out most of the pollution and the day ended with blue skies and puffy white clouds - a rarity for Beijing. On Friday we flew to Jinan where I visited Shandong University School of Law. Jinan is a small town for China -- only about 2 million residents -- Shandong University has approximately 20,000 students. After lunch with several law professors, including Zhang Shijun, who was a visiting scholar at the University of Maryland School of Law during the 2009-2010 academic year, I presented a guest lecture on “Transnational Liability Litigation for Environmental Harm.”
On Friday night my son and I flew to Shanghai where we had dinner with Professor Zhao Huiyi from Shanghai Jiao Tong University Law School. Professor Zhao, whose specialties are environmental law and criminal law, has just completed two years on leave from the law school to supervise criminal prosecutions for the procurate in Shanghai. She is hoping to come to the U.S. as a visiting scholar during the 2011-2012 academic year. On Monday May 16, we traveled to Ningbo to visit Ningbo University. Professor Cai Xianfeng, who I had met while he was in the United States in 2010, hosted the visit. After lunch with several law professors I gave a lecture on “Climate Change and the Future of Global Energy Policy in the Wake of Global ‘Tsunamis’.” The tsunamis referred to in my lecture title included the Japanese tsunami and the nuclear accident it spawned, the volatility of global energy prices in the wake of unrest in the Middle East, and the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2010 election. I discussed the effects of each of these three developments on efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S. and other countries. Photos from my trip to China are available online at: http://gallery.me.com/rperci#100835
The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has generated considerable concern in China because China has far more nuclear reactors planned and under construction than any other country and earthquakes are a major concern. On May 12 China marked the third anniversary of the devastating Wenchuan earthquake that killed nearly 70,000 people. Japanese authorities have unveiled a plan for compensating the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The plan would establish a fund to compensate the 80,000 people displaced due to the accident funded by contributions from plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company and other utilities that operate nuclear powerplants in Japan. The Japanese government plans to issue special bonds to get the fund up and running.
Chinese authorities have approved the first criminal prosecution for an environmental crime since Amendment VIII was added to the Criminal Law on May 1. The prosecution involves two men caught dumping acid wastes into the Honghe River. Complaints in mid-February about dead fish floating in the river led to an investigation and police eventually caught Mr. Jiang and Mr. Dong pouring the acid into the river. Zhou Xiaqin, the prosecutor responsible for the case, noted that under the old law, a criminal prosecution could not be brought unless it was proven that the offense had caused serious harm to public or private property or injuries or deaths. Wu Yiyao, Two Men to Face Charges for Polluting, China Daily, May 13, 2011, at 5.
China’s National Audit Office (NAO) has discovered that 205 million yuan (US $31.5 million) in subsidies designed to facilitate emissions reductions by power plants and cement and steel manufacturers have been embezzled. Twenty people reportedly have been punished for their roles in the embezzlement schemes and fines totaling more than $1 million have been imposed. The embezzlements represent only a small portion of the nearly $20 billion in subsidies to support energy conservation and emissions reductions projects from 2007 to 2009. Subsidy Fraud Hits Emissions Battle, Shanghai Daily, May 14, 2011, at A7.
On May 11 the Supreme Court of India rejected an appeal challenging as too light the sentences imposed on seven employees of the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, where a release of a toxic chemical killed thousands in December 1984.