May 29, 2018
by giannapetito
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Lighting Up Cambodia – How and Why Cambodia’s Fuel Mix for Electrification Misses the Mark

Over the past ten years Cambodia has invested heavily in hydropower and coal electric generation to meet growing power demands resulting from the nation’s electrification priorities. Cambodia eagerly pursued hydropower development because its rivers offer an estimated power potential of 10,000 MW. Such capacity would help Cambodia achieve power self-sufficiency and circumvent costly import taxes thereby increasing rate affordability. [1],[2],[3],[4] Coal is an attractive complement because it’s cheap and can offset hydropower seasonality.[5] Both power sources promised massive gains in generation capacity that Cambodia needed to quickly expand access. An overemphasis on access, however, has come at the expense of reliability, affordability, and environmental sustainability meaning that Cambodia’s electric power portfolio carries risks that could be assuaged by diversifying into other renewables and energy efficiency programming.

Image courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

Image courtesy of Phnom Penh Post

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March 30, 2018
by giannapetito
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Can Trans-border Complexities be Governed by Nation-States? Exploring the Role of China in Global Forestry Governance

Author: Sheng Sun (PEL Fellow)

For a long time nation-states were considered “too big for the small problems and too small for the big problems” in public international law and governance, and therefore to some extent have been displaced by public international institutions and private standard-setting. However, to the extent that globalization diminished the voices of local populations and amplified the powers of global political and economic elites, there was bound to be a reckoning between local and global forces for the control of the nation-states (Eric Posner 2017 and Moghalu 2017). It is in this anti-globalization context that nation-states still matter and are increasingly allowed, by international legal norms, to take regulatory measures with extraterritorial and transnational implications. State-based transnational regulatory measures are becoming an important way to deliver international regulatory mandates that directly regulate trans-border private business operations.

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February 27, 2018
by douglaswhitehead
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China’s Ivory Ban: Achievements and Enforcement Challenges

Elephant poaching in Africa has declined steadily over the last 5 years, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)[1]. However, global illegal ivory trade is the highest it has been in 6 years, even despite a near total ivory ban adopted by the United States in 2016[2], and a similar ban enacted by China[3] later that year, effective at the end of 2017.

Image source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150925-ivory-elephants-us-china-obama-xi-poaching/

Image source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150925-ivory-elephants-us-china-obama-xi-poaching/

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Cultural relics are protected under China's EPL. Photo credit: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/were-terracotta-warriors-based-on-actual-people-180954321/

January 30, 2018
by gregtisher
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Preserving Culture with EPIL

Like its natural environment, China’s heritage – as embodied in its architectural landmarks, archaeological sites, historic urban neighborhoods, traditional villages, and cultural landscapes – is under threat from the country’s rapid development.[1] One approach to slowing the loss of Chinese heritage is through law, including the Environmental Protection Law (2014 revision). The law, while focused on the natural environment, also calls for the preservation of cultural heritage, by including cultural relics[2] and historic sites[3] in its definition of “environment” (article 2); obligating governments at all levels to protect cultural relics from damage (article 29); and envisioning increased protections for urban historic sites (article 35).

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December 19, 2017
by Xiaoyu Zhang
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Newest Judges Training in Beijing Runs Successfully

Working together with ClientEarth and the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC), PEL supported a training on Environmental Adjudication for 138 Chinese Environmental Judges. The training, which was held at the National Judges College in Beijing from November 28 to December 2, 2017, fostered fruitful cross-cultural dialogue and nurtured new relationships between Chinese Judges and foreign legal experts.

Attendants at the National Judges Training on Environmental Adjudication

Attendants at the National Judges Training on Environmental Adjudication

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Image courtesy of South China Morning Post

November 1, 2017
by giannapetito
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What do China’s OFDI Patterns Mean for Countries in the Lower Mekong Region?

Last week the China’s ruling Communist Party enshrined President Xi’s One Belt One Road Initiative into its constitution.[1] While the Initiative has been touted by President Xi since 2013, its elevated status led us to wonder what this might mean for neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

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October 6, 2017
by Yu Zhuang
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Guiyang Public Environmental Education Center (贵阳公众环境教育中心) – A Father’s Promise of “A Hometown of Green Hills and Clear Waters (绿水青山)” to His Daughter

In an interview with PEL, the Director of Guiyang Public Environmental Education Center (GPEEC), Mr. Huang Chengde (黄成德), said that his dedication to environmental protection was rooted in a promise he had made to his dear daughter that when she grows up, their hometown, Guiyang City, will still have green hills and clear waters. According to Mr. Huang, protecting the environment is not for the pursuit of grandeur but, rather, for ourselves, our families, and our children and grandchildren.

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In 2010, Mr. Huang Chengde established Guiyang Public Environmental Education Center (GPEEC), the first grassroots environmental public interest organization registered with the Guiyang City Civil Affairs Bureau. Since then, GPEEC has established a 5-stakeholder-cooperative (五位一体) to promote public participation in local environmental and social governance which includes the government, courts, NGOs, companies, and members from the neighboring community.

[Author’s Note: This article is co-authored by Yu Zhuang and Huang Chengde. The authors would like to thank Gianna Petito for editing assistance.]

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September 25, 2017
by Yu Zhuang
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Multi-Governance and Society-Shared Benefits (多元共治,社会共享) Story Series of Chinese Environmental Civil Society Organizations – Green Jiangnan (绿色江南)

According to the Director of Green Jiangnan, Mr. Fang Yingjun (方应君), over the past 5 years, the role of Chinese environmental civil society organizations (ECSO) in China’s environmental governance has undergone revolutionary changes. Previously, Chinese ECSOs helped promote environmental protection mainly through environmental education and media disclosure. Now they are actively participating in finding solutions to environmental problems. Reflecting upon their previous accomplishments and lessons, ECSOs are taking increasingly innovative and strategic approaches to engage in environmental pollution remediation and environmental risks prevention. They also serve to promote social stability by efficiently resolving environmental disputes in situations where government engagement may backfire or be counterproductive. This is because ECSOs earn public trust by acting for the public interest and they develop a reputation as independent third-party players. This blog series will introduce different stories of ECSOs across China in order to highlight their evolving role in environmental governance.

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Green Jiangnan registered as an ECSO in March 2012 under the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) Civil Affairs Bureau. The organization identifies its role as a critical first-line pollution investigator within the Lake Tai (太湖) watershed, which discovers environmentally compromised areas and then works cooperatively with local Environmental Protection Bureaus (EPB) to solve the pollution violations. The majority of its staff members have environmental science degrees.

[Author’s Note: This article is co-authored by Yu Zhuang and Fang Yingjun. The authors would like to thank Gianna Petito for editing assistance.]

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September 15, 2017
by William Schulte
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Exploring Environmental Governance in Cambodia and Vietnam

 During Vermont Law School’s Summer Term 2017 I worked with some of our local partners in Cambodia and Vietnam to organize and lead a field study trip to both countries as an optional offering for students taking part in a new course taught by Professor Lin Yanmei and myself – Environmental Governance in the Developing World.

Visiting Ms. Ly's village in Vietnam

Visiting Ms. Ly’s village in Vietnam

The trip was designed to provide students with an opportunity to observe firsthand some of the issues, conditions and challenges with regard to implementing strong environmental governance in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam.   As described below, among other things we visited with local law firms, witnessed local community meetings on the management of protected forests, went on an amazing hike, and visited several UNESCO World Heritage sites.  It was truly an eye opening experience that gave us a deep appreciation for some of the difficulties that countries in the developing world face in pursuing sustainable development.

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