Wen on environmental pollution

Here’s one of the recent high-profile exhortations about the need to protect the environment. Premier Wen basically blamed local officials for not paying enough attention to environmental protection and focusing too much on economic development. (SCMP 4/19.)

But there was no effort to take responsibility for the incentive structure that drives local officials to put economic growth over environmental protection and also the lack of an adequate regulatory infra-structure at the national and sub-national level that is a basic prerequisite for an effective environmental protection scheme. As it is well known, the SEPA is way too small to act as the equivalent of the US EPA, especially given the size of China. Sigh . . .

3 thoughts on “Wen on environmental pollution

  1. All true, except China’s new five year plan does emphasize improving the environment and measuring how regions are doing in this regard. It will take time, but my sense is things have gotten so bad that most realize improvement is essential.

  2. All true, except China’s new five year plan does emphasize improving the environment and measuring how regions are doing in this regard. It will take time, but my sense is things have gotten so bad that most realize improvement is essential.

  3. I agree that things have gotten so bad that many (most?) officials realize that something must change. And I am sure that things will eventually get better. But before things get better, my sense is also that things will still get worse. The thing is that just because one knows that something must be done about pollution and environmental degradation does not mean that something will actually be done. The problem is what’s commonly been described as the “Tragedy of the Commons” or the “race to the bottom.” It is supposed to be fixable with external intervention and the use of law. However, with a weak rule of law in China, that is a real problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s