LAW 443

Comparative Environmental Law

Environmental Law, International Law, Public Interest Law

In coming decades, nearly all of the growth in global pollution emissions is expected to come from developing countries.  For example, more than 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions between 2012 and 2040 are projected to originate in non-OECD (developing) countries. This course will examine problems of environmental regulation in the developing world by focusing on the case of China. While China is sui generis in many ways (e.g., size, history), it nonetheless offers a useful lens for examining general issues of regulation in the major emerging economies (e.g., India, Brazil, Russia). Economic focus, relative poverty, rapid growth, limited capacity, and other features shape (and limit) the possibilities of regulation in these countries. The case of China also allows us to draw distinctions (and find similarities) among authoritarian and democratic regulatory settings.   

The course will introduce students to basic concepts from the social sciences literature on regulatory enforcement and compliance. Students will also read key sources from the literature on “law & development.” These will sensitize the class to debates and criticisms concerning U.S. efforts to provide regulatory assistance around the world.

The remainder of the course will cover various issues in environmental regulation in China. Readings will include some historical material (Mao’s War on Nature), but largely cover the period from 1978 to present (China’s so-called “reform & opening” period). Several classes will examine institutional, political, economic, and social reasons for weak environmental regulation in China. The class will also take a critical look at China’s current efforts to engage in “green development,” its “war on pollution,” and the prospects for China becoming a global leader on climate change.

This course will be of interest to any student seeking to understand the challenges of environmental regulation outside of the U.S. context. Students who complete the course will gain a thorough understanding of environmental regulation in China, perhaps the most important actor in global efforts to address climate change, air pollution, and a host of other environmental challenges. Prof. Wang will draw from his personal experience as an environmental advocate in China, working with Chinese regulators, lawyers, researchers, activists, and community groups.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

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