Lawsuits. If you've seen the films Erin Brockovich or A Civil Action, you're probably familiar with the concept of environmental public interest litigation. In the U.S. and other countries, the birth of environmental laws barely preceded the advent of environmental NGOs, who began suing to make sure those laws were enforced. Because of differences in China's laws and legal system, though, public interest suits have traditionally played little role in environmental enforcement in China.
But this situation is starting to change: recent amendments to China's Environmental Protection Law grant standing to NGOs meeting certain qualifications to raise environmental public interest suits. We’re thrilled to have sat down with Ma Rongzhen, a public interest lawyer at China’s oldest grassroots environmental NGO, Friends of Nature, to discuss the progress and potential for public interest suits to play a greater role in protecting China’s environment. If you're interested in reading more, check out FON's website (Chinese), where you can subscribe to their regular e-newsletter updates on the latest progress for environmental public interest suits raised by FON.