China has unveiled plans for a new environment ministry, including a staff increase from 300-500.
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment will take on the following remit:
- Climate change and emissions reduction policies, currently under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
- Underground water pollution regulation, currently under the Ministry of National Land and Resources
- Watershed environmental protection, currently under the Ministry of Water Resources
- Agricultural pollution control, currently under the Ministry of Agriculture
- Marine conservation, currently under the State Oceanic Administration
- Environmental protection during project implementation, currently under the State Council’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project Construction Committee.
Senior officials hail the MEE as a way beyond fragmentation that has held back China's environmental governance.
For instance, under this Ministry, CO2 emissions will be regulated by a single body - a first for China. This will not only cut costs and improve coordination, but could help to overcome barriers to change.
How powerful will the new MEE prove?
Some worry that moving climate policy away from the economic planning body – the NDRC – to an environment ministry will prove a deprioritisation in China's decision-making hierarchy.