China has made considerable efforts to safeguard the people's right to a clean and healthy environment, according to a white paper published on Monday.
The legal system for protecting the environment and eco-systems was improved, thanks to a comprehensive amendment to the Environmental Protection Law, said the white paper titled "Progress in China's Human Rights in 2014" issued by the Information Office of the State Council.
The new law has required government at all levels and all enterprises to shoulder more responsibilities and clearly defined citizens' right to a clean and healthy environment, it said, adding specific normative regulations were also drawn up and issued to support the newly amended law.
Progress has been made in ecological construction and in energy conservation and emission reduction, it said. In 2014 the chemical oxygen demand, and the discharges of ammonia nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide continued to decrease, with nitrogen oxide seeing the largest annual cut of 6.7 percent. The overall consumption of coal was reduced by 2.9 percent.
While punishments for activities violating environmental laws were intensified, the legal guarantee of the right to a clean environment was also strengthened, with the Supreme People's Court establishing a special tribunal to hear cases related to the environment and natural resources, the paper said.
It added that the number of cases involving environmental offences that was transferred to public security organs in 2014 exceeded the total of the previous ten year.
The channels for citizens to participate in the management of environment-related affairs were further broadened, the white paper said, citing environmental protection departments' duty to disclose environmental information and non-governmental organizations' right to file environmental public interest lawsuits to the people's courts.