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A new environmental protection law, many old problems?: challenges to environmental governance in China

Zhang, Bo; Cao, Cong; Gu, Junzhan; Liu, Ting


Bo Zhang

Cong Cao

Junzhan Gu

Ting Liu


Through a three-year revision involving various stakeholders, China has enacted a new Environmental Protection Law (EPL). The new law seeks to harmonize economic and social development with environmental protection and for the first time establishes clear requirements for the construction of an ecological civilization. It toughens the penalties for environmental offences with specific articles and provisions for raising public awareness. It also places greater responsibility on local government and law enforcement for the protection of China’s environment. However, many of the problems identified in the old EPL and especially the obstacles to its implementation have not been fully addressed and resolved. Effective environmental governance entails not only environmental laws but also implementation mechanisms, accountability regimes, and institutional arrangements. Raising the status of the EPL and of the general environmental protection apparatus is only the first step to meeting China’s environmental challenges. More efforts in the area of enforcement and implementation will lead China to a cleaner future.


Zhang, B., Cao, C., Gu, J., & Liu, T. (2016). A new environmental protection law, many old problems?: challenges to environmental governance in China. Journal of Environmental Law, 28(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2016
Publication Date Jul 8, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2017
Journal Journal of Environmental Law
Print ISSN 0952-8873
Electronic ISSN 1464-374X
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 2
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Environmental Law following peer review. The version of record Bo Zhang, Cong Cao, Junzhan Gu, Ting Liu; A New Environmental Protection Law, Many Old Problems? Challenges to Environmental Governance in China, Journal of Environmental Law, Volume 28, Issue 2, 1 July 2016, Pages 325–335, is available online at:

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