The Reading Room

China Environmental Law

I first heard Charlie McElwee talking about China’s climate change policy on BBC radio 4’s ‘The World at One’ in the run up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks. I remember clocking at the time that he was the first person I heard on the airwaves discussing China’s green agenda that wasn’t either a journalist or a politician (The usual suspects are the FT’s Fiona Harvey or the BBC’s very own green web guru Richard Black). Radio 4 usually gets the right interviewees for big global summits so I was surprised they had chosen a ‘blogger’ to fill in the detail.

I am not usually a fan of bloggers pretending to be journalists but when I scrolled through Charlie’s blog later that afternoon I was not at all disappointed. It seems the BBC knew exactly what they were doing in asking Charlie to explain the exact shape of the Chinese piece in the Copenhagen jigsaw puzzle.

Charlie is an international environmental and energy lawyer based in Shanghai whose blog covers topics from subsidies for low emission vehicles to China’s soil prevention pollution law. He not only lives and breathes the minutiae of Chinese environmental regulation but has a knack of explaining it in the plainest of English (environmental legislation is difficult enough to understand- never mind when you combine it with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ten year plan). The comments on his page are also worth reading as they’re by some of the other green thought leaders living in China. His recommended web links are also fantastic.

Many months after first scrolling through Charlie’s blog I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that Ministers, MPs and policy officials at leading environmental organizations such as Globe International regularly tune in to aid their attempts to decipher the green code coming out of Beijing. Many people now accurately predict that the G20 will have to become the G2 (USA and China) when it comes to sorting out how far the temperature of our planet is allowed to rise. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if senators (or at least their researchers) are logging in to Charlie’s blog before key environmental committees and hearings. As far as the English-speaking world is concerned, there isn’t an easier to understand or trust worthier source of information on the CCP’s climate change policy.

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