China's Qingdao Maritime Court on July 27 ruled that a lawsuit against ConocoPhillips China and China National Offshore Oil for a 2011 oil spill can proceed. The suit was brought by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and it the first case to proceed since the country revised a law (LoC backgrounder) allowing NGOs to directly sue polluters in the public interest. The Chinese government has already fined the companies approximately $258 million for the spill. Other cases are also pending under the law, which became effective on Jan. 1.
China had long come under international criticism for lax environmental laws and enforcement, but has taken more protective steps in recent years. Earlier this month, China set a 60% per capita carbon dioxide emissions reduction goal for 2030. That follows up a November agreement with the US to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.
From Jurist, July 28. Used with permission.