Environmental public interest litigation (EPIL) are legal actions brought by social organizations on behalf of the public against activities that cause environmental pollution, ecological damage and public interest harm.
Previously, there is no room for social organizations to file lawsuits against polluting companies on behalf of public interest. On Jan. 1, China changed its Environmental Protection Law to allow cases involving accusations of pollution by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as long as they are registered and can demonstrate that they have been actively concerned with environmental issues for five years before their suits are filed.
Since then, by Feb. 2016, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (abbreviated to CBCGDF) had filed a total of 43 EPIL cases, among which 28 was accepted by the court. For example, CBCGDF filed a litigation on behalf of the plant called “Ace pentaphyllum Diels” against a hydroelectric power company, which is the first EPIL for an endangered plant.
The non-profit organization had a bumpy ride in exploration of environmental justice since the new law taken into effect. And China’s Superior People’s Court made a historical decision to order a lower court to accept one of its EPIL case that was previously been rejected.
EPIL has proven to be very effective on environmental protection, public environmental remedies and sustainable social development.
CBCGDF’s efforts in protecting the country’s environment and safeguarding the people’s environmental justice have been well recognized by the nation, including two of its EPIL cases were selected by “China’s Top Ten Public Interest Litigation in 2015”.