”Triangular Consultation”: How and to what end are local governments staging negotiations between air-polluting enterprises and residents?

Do these new "consultation mechanisms" represent institutionalized forms of public participation in environmental governance? And do they have the potential to make local implementation of air pollution control more effective?

Photo: Yongdong Shen

Implementation of air quality protection policies targeting heavily polluting industrial enterprises has become a primary issue for local governments in China. Chemical industry, metal smelters, boiler factory and coal-fired power plants are all vehicles of a fast-growing economy, but also blow tons of carbon, sulphur, gases, and soot into the air and contribute to China’s smog-filled cities.

Pressurized by the central government’s new action plans local governments in China have a hard time in implementing business-related air protection measures: industrial enterprises need time to move out of cities, many adjunct issues (compensations, social security for laid-off workers, subsidies, etc.) have to be solved, while angered residents’ protests endanger ‘society stability’. All those factors push local governments to find ways to somehow involve all relevant stakeholders, as a means to safeguard their “air policies”’ effectiveness.

This part of the Case 2 sub-project focuses on the local implementation of industry-related air pollution prevention policies at the city level in China. Cases of negotiations between residents, air polluting enterprises and local governments for implementing the industrial air pollution policy will be described and discussed in detail. In particular, this project will ask whether we see local governments’ strategic involvement of (and sometimes aligning with) society against businesses – a dynamic with the potential to improve the effectiveness of air protection policies in local China?

By Yongdong Shen
Published June 15, 2015 2:10 PM - Last modified June 22, 2016 4:45 PM