I've just returned from three weeks in China where Blogspot is blocked by the government's "Great Firewall." Here is the blog post I made on my parallel blog at: www.globalenvironmentallaw.com:
I’m in the Beijing airport right now after a nearly three-week trip to China to serve as a visiting scholar at Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Law. During the past week I made four presentations at four different Chinese institutions. On Tuesday June 10 I spoke about “The Evolution of Environmental Law” at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’s Center of Eco-Economics and Sustainable Development. Following my lecture we had a lively discussion about why it has been so difficult for China to enforce its environmental laws.
On Wednesday June 11 I took the high-speed train from Shanghai to Jinan where I gave an evening lecture on “Environmental Law in an Era of Globalization” at the Shandong University School of Law, Jinan, China, June 11, 2014. Shandong University is where I taught a short course on environmental law in May 2012. Shandong University Professor Zhang Shijun, who spent a year as a visiting environmental law scholar at Maryland hosted my visit.
On Thursday afternoon June 12 I spoke to nearly 300 students at the Shandong University of Political Science and Law in Jinan. The topic of my lecture was “Using Criminal Sanctions to Enforce Environmental Law.” China has started doing more criminal enforcement of its environmental laws. A week ago Professor Zhao Huiyu of Shanghai Jiaotong University attended a court proceeding involving the prosecution of a businessman for dumping chemicals. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for foreigners to attend Chinese court proceedings so I was unable to accompany her. It was a real privilege on Thursday afternoon to get to spend two hours with young Chinese students engaging in a fascinating discussion about the future of environmental law and the role of criminal sanctions in its enforcement. I used a serious of examples of U.S. cases where I asked the audience to vote on whether or not the polluter should be prosecuted criminally.
On Friday June 13 Professor Zhao and I traveled about an hour and a half north of Shanghai to the Shanghai Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve. The purpose of the trip was for local and regional environmental professionals to assess whether or not new legislation should be proposed to protect the amazing wetlands from the impact of future development. Prior to the meeting the director of the reserve took Professor Zhao and I on an hour-long hike through the reserve. He explained that the wetlands held in the reserve are part of a crucial flight path for birds migrating between Australia/New Zealand and northern Siberia/Alaska. Approximately 290 different species of migratory birds can be found in the reserve. Following the hike we participated in a conference with a group of Chinese environmental professors. I spoke to the group on how wetlands are protected in the United States under U.S. environmental law. The meeting ended with the group drafting a resolution calling for additional legal protection of the Dongtan Reserve followed by a traditional Chinese banquet.
Last week we received word that the book of edited papers prepared for the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law’s “Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads” Colloquium has been published by Edward Elgar Publishers in London. I co-edited the book with Professor Jolene Lin of the University of Hong Kong and William Piermattei, the Managing Director of our Environmental Law Program at Maryland. There will be a book launch event celebrating publication of the book at the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Tarragona, Spain on July 3.
Today there are articles in the Shanghai Post and the China Daily noting how difficult it is to win the “license lottery” that enables one to buy a new car in those cities. Both cities are trying to limit traffic congestion by strictly regulating the number of new cars on the road. In Beijing the odds of winning the lottery are only 2.2 percent. The papers also note that the Chinese government shut down a chemical plant in Hunan Province after discovering very high levels of lead in the blood of children living near the plant.
I am about to board the plane to return to the U.S. I am looking forward to getting back home, albeit briefly, before leaving with my son for the World Cup in Brazil on Thursday. I am enormously grateful to Professor Zhao Huiyu for her incredible hospitality during my time at Shanghai Jiaotong University.