The local environmental regulatory regime in China: changes in pro-environment orientation, institutional capacity, and external political support in Guangzhou
In the first decade of this millennium China has demonstrated a stronger commitment to environmental protection. Yet, there remains a significant gap between environmental laws and regulations and the quality of the environment. In this paper, we propose an integrated framework for analysis that we apply to investigate the factors that account for this gap in implementation. We analyse the results of surveys conducted in 2000 and 2006 and interviews carried out in 2006 and 2007 in eleven jurisdictions of Guangzhou municipality on three factors: pro-environment orientation, institutional capacity, and external political support for environmental units. The results show that, after several decades of environmental protection regulations, the pro-environment orientation of environmental officials in Guangzhou has been strengthened, whereas the institutional capacity of environmental agencies, although often beefed up in real terms, remains inadequate due to the heightened expectations of state and society actors. It is the external political support received by environmental agencies that drives the success or failure of environmental protection enforcement. More often than not, the strength or weakness of political support is embedded in the policy design and implementation structure and is associated with the policy orientation of political leaders. Keywords: environmental regulation, pro-environment orientation, institutional capacity, political support, Guangzhou
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