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Access Still Barred

May 27 , 2011

Three years have passed since China introduced legislation confirming the public’s right to access environmental information. But both experts and members of the public who have requested the disclosure of pollution data – from both government and business – have found that the vague terms in which the regulations are couched are impeding their implementation.

“Although the regulations list 19 types of information that should be disclosed and only one short clause on exemptions, that one short clause has become a catch-all,” explained Wang Canfa, director of the Center for Legal Assistance to Victims of Pollution, speaking at a seminar on April 27 to mark the law’s three year anniversary. In many other countries, he said, exceptions are specifically listed and everything else must be disclosed, a system he believes China should also adopt.

Regulations on the disclosure of government information and a trial method for the disclosure of environmental information were officially implemented three years ago. The April seminar, organised by Chinese NGO Friends of Nature, brought together experts and environmental activists to examine how those regulations are being put into practice.

Meng Si is managing editor in chinadialogue’s Beijing office.

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