Informational Environmental Regulation in Practice
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Environmental degradation limits the prospects of sustainable economic development and the pursuit of a life of better quality. An informational approach to environmental regulation, a policy innovation implemented after direct regulation and economic incentive mechanism, has exhibited its positive results on pollution reduction. Since 1995, this approach has been exported from the developed world to more than ten developing countries by international policy advisors. China experimented with environmental performance information disclosure (EPID) pilot programs in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province and Hohhot, Inner Mongolia between 1999 and 2000. Mixed results have been found. The disclosure program was sustained in Zhenjiang but was stopped in Hohhot only after the pilot phase. Furthermore, there has been no extensive research on how an informational approach to environmental regulation worked in a developing country context such as China, where private environmental enforcement by civil society and markets are lacking. This comparative case study advances our knowledge of the informational approach to environmental regulation by examining its implementation and impact. The following factors are found to be critical for policy implementation: perceptions of the policy innovation by local leadership and implementers, capacity of local environmental protection agencies, and the contexts in which the policy was carried out. Disclosed environmental information was able to induce better industrial environmental performance and incorporated the environment into development decision making by local government officials. However, environmental performance information disclosure alone was not sufficient to involve the public in environmental protection in China. For administrative, legal, market, and public forces to converge in environmental compliance and enforcement in China, building better institutional infrastructure is in order.
- Doctoral Dissertations