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王曦博客

实事求是,认识政府、企业和“第三方主体”,探索以法律保障其良性互动之原理和途径。

 
 
 

日志

 
 
关于我

主要学术观点: 一、解决经济发展的资源环境代价过大问题和转变发展方式,都急需在法律上建立规范和制约政府有关环境的行政行为的制度。我国环境法制建设的战略突破口在于进行这项重要的基础性制度建设。 二、《环保法》应当为环保事业主体之间的良性有效互动提供法律保障。 三、法律对于环保主体良性有效互动的保障程度,是衡量一个国家环境事业和环境法制发展水平的一个重要指标。

网易考拉推荐

王曦在上海外语频道《惊言堂》节目谈我国环境法制建设  

2010-07-11 21:57:56|  分类: 报道与访谈 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |
 

2009年3月8日 王曦教授接受上海电视台外语频道《惊言堂》节目访谈。以下是该访谈的录音文字(中英对照)。如需该访谈的电视录像光盘,可来电子邮件索取。电子邮件地址: wangxi6324@163.com


Now it's the best time for environmental protection

Wang Xi

Director of Environmental and Resource Law Institute,

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

CPPCC Member

 

Guest profile

Professor Wang Xi is Director of Environmental and Resource Law Institute at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. With an LLM degree from Washington University and a JD degree from Wuhan University, Wang's focus has been on strengthening environmental protection through legislation. As a CPPCC member, his proposals are directed at improving the government's role of supervision in environmental issues.

 

According to Blacksmith Institute 2008 annual report, only 1% of China’s 560 million urban dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union, and nearly 500 million lack access to safe drinking water. The country's dependence on coal and the poor emission standards of some vehicles are the main causes of pollution. But many environmental experts also blame "government failures". Amid the current financial turmoil, the Chinese government is expected to spend a quarter of its 4 trillion Yuan stimulus package to help reduce pollution. What does government failure mean? Can it be fixed through legislative efforts? 

 

Government failure

A: Thank you very much for joining us, Professor, we appreciate it.

W: Thank you. 

A: This is going to be the second time you talk about the “government failures” in the environmental protection during the two sessions, you use the term specifically “government failure”. Can you talk a little about what those government failures are?

W: The term, “government failure” is a special term used by economist, so it should not be understood as a general term. “Government failure”, that’s a big problem. But in terms of economics, government failure is a problem. 

A: How big are the problems in the environmental protection in China?

W: The report of the National Committee of the Communist Party in the recent year said the cost of economic growth for environment and resources is too high. So this conclusion shows that the current pattern of economic growth is unsustainable. So this is a kind of market failure.

A: Can you give us a specific case of where government failure in the environmental protection area has come forward?

W: One recent example is the Taihu Lake, the Tai Lake; it’s a big lake near Shanghai. 2 years ago, because of the serious pollution, people along the lake lost their drinking water; they don’t have drinking water, because water there is so dirty. It’s kind of emergency for some of the cities and towns nearby the lake. I think that’s a good example of government failure in terms of regulation. If all of the local government along the lake is really serious about the water pollutant discharge long time ago, there will be no such kind of emergency or accident happen 2 years ago.

A: How did they get that serious? Did the local government not report the problem to the state government?

Local government priorities

W: I think the local government, they know the situation, but they just don’t have the motivation to control it, because the main leader of their government is focused on economic growth only, and also because if they want to control this kind of pollution, they need a lot of financial resources, they need money to put aside for that, but that is also something the local government don’t want to do, they want to use all of their money for economic purposes.

A: I would think economically even though, it would be a good idea to get a problem like that solved because then, in that instance, you get people who get sick and then and they are depending on the government for money then.

W: Now we have to spend much, much more money to solve this problem. Mostly government officials at local level or even at central level, the N.1 priority is to promote economic growth. So, usually they forget about the cost. They focus on to promote economy in the five year of their official term. And what is cost for the future long time? They largely ignored. So that’s why our research found out one of the reason for this problem is, in our law, there is no system or provision or legal system to check this kind of governmental mistake or governmental mistake or governmental failure. Our law is mostly focused on enterprises, business. Our law has many detailed provisions on controlling pollutant discharge or this kind of things. It seldom has a system or provisions about performance or behavior for government. I don’t think you can put all the blame on business; the government should take major part of this blame.

A: I read it in an article that you had written that there’s a lack of communication that seems from the state level to some of the local levels in implanting these changes.

W: Currently the top of our government has realized this problem and is really serious about it. But the lower level of the government, because officials at local level have got used to the old economic growth pattern and they are mostly still following the old pattern of economic growth.

A: Would you think that maybe there needs to be almost a new position created that is a person or a department that work with the state and the local levels?

W: The central government tried one way to establish more supervision from the central government to local government. For example, the environmental ministry of China has set up 6 regional centers, just like that in the US, 6 regional centers to supervise the local government performance in environmental protection. However, we need to do more than that.

A: What do you think needs to be done even more?

W: The local officials, they belong to the local government. So even thought the central government finds out some problem, or find out they didn’t follow environmental law, but the government have no direct control on local officials, even though the government has set up regional centers. So we need to find a way to let local officials be serious about environmental protection. 

A: Do you feel like the government is taking it seriously, the issues in getting some protection out there?

W: The government has made important policies called “saving energy and reduce pollution”. That’s a national policy and national program. Now everywhere, every province has their compulsory target for reducing energy consumption and for reducing pollutant discharge. The data of last 3 years shows that the pollution and energy consumption, the curve’s little bit turning down. The situation of China is near the turning point, I would say.


Legislative improvement

In 1979, China issued a trial version of the Environmental Protection Law. The law went through a full 10 years of testing before it was officially put into effect. It hasn't been revised in nearly 30 years. Only 2 out of 47 clauses are focused on the supervision and restrictions of government actions. The lack of such clauses has drawn concerns that government officials are not doing their job. The amendment of the Law has been discussed in the "two sessions" since 2006. Suggestions centered on higher governmental responsibility and stronger public rights.

A: So the environmental protection law has not been changed in thirty years. Why so long?

W: Yeah, I think one of the reasons is a good reason because after this law was promoted the Chinese congress has passed many special laws dealing with different pollution problems, like one law dealing with air pollution, one law dealing with water pollution, one dealing with sewage pollution, and noise pollution. So the congress focus on developing this kind of specialized law and put all kinds of environmental problems and the regulations of this specialized law. Environmental protection law is a law, like more comprehensive. So thirty years later, now we find out because we have all those specialized, detailed law, then the so-called mother law, we call the mother law really need to be changed. One reason is because many revision, the revision of the mother law, the environmental protection law has been detailized by those specialized law. And another reason is, after thirty years China has changed so much. Basically China has changed from centralized planned economy into market economy. This law, the environmental protection law still has many influence of planned economy, so we need to change it.

A: Just looking at that Article 6 says that, “all units and individuals shall have the obligation to protect the environment and shall have the right to report on or file charges against units or individuals that cause pollution or damage to the environment.” Reading that, to me, it sounds so vague. What can anyone do to enforce the law?

W: This is one of the typical phenomena of Chinese environmental law. In our law, we have many these kind of provisions, you know, vague.

A: Is there any enforcement capabilities in the old law? Can anyone be prosecuted for breaking in, or are there so many loopholes that it doesn’t ever go that far?

W: So far the enforcement of the environmental law is not as good as people had expected. There are many loopholes on one hand. On the other hand, there are still some enforcement mechanisms. In our criminal code, we have provisions dealing with this kind of, we call environmental crime.

A: I wonder too, is it hard in a situation like that, we are talking about the lake, to pin point, who the major contributor is?

W: I think it’s more important than dealing with the sudden happened accident because this kind of daily operation really cause problem in the future time. In the past years, the local officials, they mostly ignored this kind of duty. So if we change our law and make a… you know, let the law say “no, you have to be serious about your environment duty.” If you are not serious about to perform your daily environment duty, you will have problems because of the law. You may get some punishments. The previous law, our existing law, this part of provisions is very weak.

A: What are the things that need to be added to the law to make it stronger?

W: I think one way is to increase the supervision from the congress to the government. The congress men can go through some channel set by the law to say something to the government of all governmental officials. That’s one way. Another way is to let the central government have some legal channel to supervise local government. In the previous years, many times the central government found the problems. But they just have no control or no check, because in our law, there is no this kind of arrangements. Thirdly, we need channels set by law to help the society to say something about the local government. Many people at local level, they see the problem, but they have no way to express themselves through the legal arrangement. We need to amend our environmental law to add one system in the law, add one new system in the environmental protection law. That is system for information disclosure at one hand, and on the other hand is supervision and check from central government, from the congress and from the whole society from people. 

A: Is there any conflict or dissention that might arise as we try to get tougher laws passed?

W: I think so. This kind of change of law is really one of the key parts of reform, or political reform. So it will hit the interest of some existing interest holder. For example, some local officials, they may don't want to change. If we change the law, we put all kinds of supervision and check, then this kind of issue, they have think about to change or not. It’s kind of in conflict with their personal interest. So it’s not an easy thing to do but it’s something we must do.


Environmental protection in economic downturn

Environmental issues are always on Wang Xi's mind. Along with pushing to improve government supervision of the environment, he is urging lawmakers to keep sustainable development in mind when dealing with the current financial crisis. Fixing the economy is important, but it can't be done at the sacrifice of environment.

A: The stimulus package that was recently announced, I think it’s 25% of the stimulus package is supposed to go to environmental protection, procedures, and initiatives. Can you explain to us a little bit about what that money will go to?

W: This is very good news for environment of China. As far as I know, most of this money will go to; a large proportion of this money will go to environmental infrastructure construction, such as sewage plant. One problem for the pollution like Tai Lake is that there is no enough sewage plant and the local government always says “we don’t have the money to do that.” Now the central government invests some money and also the local government has to patch with the central investment. So they have no excuse. They have also invested some money.

A: Is China under a spotlight at all still from the Olympics that so much was put into cleaning the air up in Beijing for the athletes and for the games, is that spotlight making more of an issue making it more important to get these things cleaned up?

W: Yes, the effort made by Beijing city to clean up the city sets a good example for other parts of China. Beijing city took the opportunity of the Olympic Game to invest a lot of money to improve the infrastructure related to environment and to move out many of the polluting industries out of city and to change the production technology and transportation and so on. This kind of experience will be very good for other parts of China, other cities like Shanghai. Shanghai is working on the 2010 World Expo, a lot of efforts made by city government.

A: Hopefully the financial implications in the long run could be a good driving force to give the government to act.

W: Now because China has accumulated much better economic strength than before and also because of the current economic crisis, the policy is to encourage the domestic market and also the government has earmarked big money for environmental protection construction. So it’s a good time for the legislature to make this change.

A: Do you think the economic downturn will make the situation worse or better in terms of getting legislation, tough legislation get passed?

W: For China, I think the crisis is another good thing. But this kind of change, it’s good because the economic crisis caused the government to further realize that environmental and energy problem or environmental resources problem is really a problem. For the long-term economic growth, we have to change and also at the crisis time people tend to be more serious than before about their jobs, their work and also the government has decided to invest a lot of money to environmental protection. So it makes the bad thing into good thing.

A: Into a good thing? Because a lot of people will argue that development should come first and environment is going to come second, but it’s not necessarily true, right? I would like to think you would say “Yes”.

W: I would say the best way for China is to develop and also environmental protection at the same time, so development makes change. Develop economy along the way of sustainable development. So develop and then gradually change. That’s the best way.

A: Any suggestions down the road, once we get past some of this economic crisis that we've been dealing with? Maybe some new initiatives should be looked at?

W: The current situation, I say environmental, I feel, although we are facing a serious environmental problem, but the current government policy is really in favor of environmental protections. So I feel very encouraged. I think now is the best time for environmental protection course in China.

Bottom line.. Experts say changing china's environmtal protection law needs to be a prority. Not only will it help clean up the air, land, and water.. It could help the government save money down the road by eliminating the need to clean up polluted and dangerous areas.. And pay for the damages they cause.

 


目前是开展环保工作的最佳时期
 

王曦

上海交通大学环境资源法研究所所长

全国政协委员

 

嘉宾介绍

王曦教授是上海交通大学环境资源法研究所所长,曾获得美国华盛顿大学法学院法学硕士学位以及武汉大学法学博士学位。王曦一直关注通过立法完善并加强环境保护。作为政协委员,他的提案旨在加强政府在环境问题中的监管。

 

    根据布莱克史密斯研究所2008年度报告公布的数据显示,按照欧盟的指标,中国目前5.6亿城镇居民中,只有1%呼吸着干净安全的空气;并且有将近5亿人没有干净的饮用水。中国对于煤炭的依赖以及一些汽车尾气排放指标的缺失,是造成污染的主要原因。但有很多环境问题专家指出,“政府失灵”也是原因之一。在眼下的金融危机中,中国政府计划将4万亿元经济刺激计划中的25%用于减少污染。“政府失灵“是指什么?通过立法是否能解决这一问题?

政府失灵

主:欢迎来到我们的节目。

王:谢谢。

主:这是你第二次在两会上提出关于环保中的政府失灵问题。你特别使用了政府失灵一词,你能解释一下它的含义吗?

王:“政府失灵”原本是经济学家们使用的专业词汇,因此它不是一个普通的词。政府失灵听起来好像是个很严重的问题。但是在经济层面,这是一个话题。

主:这个问题有多严重?特别是在中国的环保方面。

王:党中央近几年指出,经济发展所花费的环境和资源代价太高,也就是说现在的经济发展模式是不可持续的模式。因此这是一种市场失灵。

主:你能举一个关于在环境保护中政府失灵的例子吗?

王:一个比较近的例子是太湖。这是一个离上海很近的湖泊。2年前,由于水质严重污染,沿湖的居民失去了饮水水源。他们没有干净的水喝。因为水的污染太严重了,对周围的一些城镇来说情况非常紧急。这是政府失灵的极佳例证,从规章制度角度来讲。如果所有沿湖的地方政府都从一开始认真对待废水排放的话,那么就不会发生这样的危机。

主:事情是怎么恶化的?是不是地方政府没有把问题上报给中央政府?

地方政府的优先事项

王:这些地方政府清楚问题所在,但是他们始终没有治污的动力。因为那些政府领导只重视经济发展。还有一点就是如果要治污,需要大量的资金。这也是地方政府不愿意做的。他们要把所有钱都花在发展经济上。

主:但即使从经济角度考虑,解决这一污染问题也是有益的。不然人们生了病之后,会让政府负担更多。

王:现在我们需要花很多很多钱来解决这个问题。大多数地方官员,甚至有些中央的官员,仍然把经济发展放在首位,所以通常就忘记了代价问题。他们仅仅关注自己任期5年内的经济成果,但对环境的长远影响呢,他们大多数都视而不见。因此我们的研究发现,问题的原因之一在于,在我们的法律中缺少对于政府失误或者政府失灵的有效的法律监管机制。我们的环保法关注的重点是企业和各种行业的行为。我们的法律对控制排污的指标有详细的规定,但却缺少对政府绩效的监管体系。我认为不能把全部责任归咎到企业头上。在这件事情上,政府要承担大部分责任。

主:我读了一些你写的文章,你提到了地方政府在落实政策方面缺少与中央政府之间的沟通。

王:现在政府高层已经意识到了这一问题,并且对它很重视。但在地方政府层面,因为一些官员对以往的经济发展模式习以为常了,大多数仍然在走老路。

主:你是否认为有必要新增一个岗位,由专人或者一个部门来负责中央和地方之间的沟通?

王:为了解决这个问题,中央政府与地方政府之间设立更多的监管机构。比如,中国环境保护部设立了6个区域中心,就像美国那样,这6个中心用来监管地方政府在环保方面所做的工作。然而我们做的还远远不够。

主:你认为我们在哪些方面仍需努力?

王:地方官员隶属地方政府。即使中央政府发现了某些问题,或发现他们没有遵守环保法,但不能直接干预地方官员的行为。即使设立了监督中心也是如此。所以我们必须想办法让地方官员意识到环保问题的严重性。

主:就你看来政府对环境保护是否足够重视?

王:政府曾出台过重要的政策,即节能减排,这是一项全国性的政策,在全国范围内实施。现在每个地方都有节能减排的硬性指标。就近3年来的数据显示,污染和能源消耗的数据有小幅下降的趋势。中国如今已经处在了一个转折点。

立法改善

1979年,中国出台了环保法的试行法案,经过10年的验证期后终于正式生效。在30年中基本未修改。47条法条中只有2条针对政府行为进行监管和约束。相关法律的缺失,导致了对于政府不作为的担忧。自从2006年两会,环保法的修订被列入议事日程。所涉及提案大多包括增加政府责任和公共权利方面。

主:环境保护法在30多年来从未被修改过。为什么那么长时间?

王:我认为其中原因之一是合理的。因为当该法投入实施后,全国人大又通过了一些细则,针对的是各种污染问题,比如一则是针对空气污染的法律,一则是针对水污染的法律,也有针对垃圾和噪音污染的法律。所以人大十分关注这些针对各种污染的法规细则。环保法统领全局。那么30年之后,我们发现因为法规都被细化了,那么我们所讲的母法也应该有所改进了。另一个原因是,30年过去了,中国发生了巨大的变化,中国从计划经济转为市场经济。那么环保法中,仍然有计划经济的影子,所以我们要改变这样的现状。

主:环保法第六条是这样的:“一切单位和个人都有保护环境的义务,并有权对污染和破坏环境单位和个人进行检举和控告。”我读下来的感觉是概念非常模糊,那么我们如何确保法律的执行呢?

王:这是中国环保法中非常普遍的现象。在我们的法律中,我们有较多这样概念模糊的条款。

主:在旧法中有没有对法律的强制执行做相关规定?个人破坏环境会被起诉吗?还是法律中存在诸多漏洞,以至我们不会走到这一步?

王:迄今为止,环境保护法的执行力度不及我们所愿。从一方面来看,是存在许多漏洞。而另一方面,强制执行的机制也是存在的。在刑法条例中,我们有针对类似行为的条款,我们称之为环境犯罪。

主:在这样的情况下,我们所讨论的太湖的情况要找到罪魁祸首是不是非常困难?

王:我认为处理这种污染行为比处理突发事件更重要。这种长期、慢性的排放会给我们未来的环境造成严重的后果。在过去几年中,地方官员大多忽视了这一职责。因此如果我们修改法律,让法律说“不行,你必须认真履行你的环保职责。”如果你把每天履行环保责任不当一回事的话,就会受到法律制裁,你也许会被处罚。在我们现存的法律中,这方面是非常弱的。

主:那么我们需要增加哪些内容使法律更加强有力?

王:我认为首先是要加强国务院对地方政府的监管机制。国务院可以通过法律允许的渠道向各级政府、政府官员传递信息,这是一种办法。另一种办法是让中央政府拥有法律渠道来监管地方政府,在过去几年里,中央政府就算找到了问题所在,也经常无计可施,因为他们没有制约的权力。因为法律中没有相关的规定。第三,我们需要在法律中新增能体现社会对地方政府民意的监管机制。许多当地人亲眼目睹了问题,却苦于没有能让他们反映意见的法律渠道。我们要修正现行的环境保护法,添加全新的法规制度。一方面是信息披露,另一方面则是中央、国务院和整个社会一起进行环境监管。

主:是不是会产生很多矛盾,有不同意的声音?

王:是这样的。修订法律的确是改革的关键,或者说是政治体制改革的关键。这会触动既得利益者,比如某些地方官员。他们可不想改变。那么至少我们可以通过立法来督促这些官员努力工作。如果改变法律,我们可以设立各种监管和制约机制。那么这些人就会认真考虑是不是也要改变了。这是一种和个人利益的冲突。要做到也是不容易的。但是这也是一定要做的。

金融危机下的环保机遇

环境问题一直是王曦关注的焦点,在推进改善政府监管的同时,他也建议立法者牢记可持续发展观,尤其在金融危机中。振兴经济固然重要,但不能以牺牲环境为代价。

主:最近出台的经济刺激计划就我所知大约25%的资金会投入到环境保护以及相关的程序和新提案上。能和我们说说这些资金具体怎么用吗?

王:这对中国的环境来说是个好消息。据我所知,很大一部分资金会用于环境基础设施建设,比如污水处理厂。像太湖这样的污染问题,其中一个原因是污水处理厂不够。地方政府总是说,我们没钱造。现在中央政府批了投资,地方政府也必须利用这笔投资,所以现在他们没有借口了。他们也投入了资金。

主:中国是否还在奥运会带来的光环下?人们做了如此多的工作,来净化北京的空气,为运动员以及奥运会营造良好的环境。这种聚光灯效应还存在吗?人们是不是认识到了环保的重要性?

王:是的,北京为美化城市所作的工作为中国其他城市树立了积极的榜样。北京很好地利用了奥运会,投入重金修缮与环境相关的基础设施,并且将很多污染严重的企业搬迁出了市区;还改善了生产技术、交通状况等等。这种经历对中国其他地区来说是有积极意义的。比如上海,上海正在积极筹备2010年世博会,上海市政府同样做了大量工作。

主:长远的经济考量会是推动政府作为的动力。

王:因为现在中国已经累积了远比之前强大的经济实力。也因为现在的经济危机,政策会鼓励国内市场,政府也批了大量资金用于环境保护建设。对于立法来说,也是个转变的好时机。

主:你认为经济萧条对于强硬立法的通过是好是坏?

王:对于中国来说,我认为经济危机也是件好事。这些变化是好事。因为它让政府进一步认识到环境和能源问题,或者说意识到这些问题的确是大问题。为求长远的经济增长,我们必须改变。另一方面,危机时期,人们会更把他们的工作当回事。政府也决定投入大量资金用于环境保护。因此可以说是坏事变好事。

主:变好事,很多人会强调发展在先,其次考虑环境。但这并不完全正确,对吗?我想你会说对。

王:我想说,对于中国来说,最好的方法是同时兼顾发展和环境保护,这样发展方式才会变化,以可持续发展的眼光发展经济,发展并慢慢改变发展的方式,这是最好的办法。

主:对于今后有什么建议吗?在我们走出现下经济危机之后,也许应该有什么新的动向?

王:目前的情况,我是指关于环境,尽管面对严峻的环境问题,但目前的政府政策的确很支持环境保护,所以我很受鼓舞。我相信现在是推进中国环境保护的最佳时机,继续推行这些政策。

我们的底线是环境保护法改革应当优先。这不仅会帮助我们改善空气、土地以及水质,实际上还帮助政府节省了一笔开销,通过削减待净化污染地区的数量和他们自身造成的破坏。

 

以上中英文字转引自上海外语频道《惊言堂》博客,http://themaintalk.spaces.live.com/?_c11_BlogPart_BlogPart=blogview&_c=BlogPart&partqs=amonth%3d3%26ayear%3d2009,2010-7-11访问。

 

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