Supreme court issues guidelines on climate goals

China’s supreme court has issued the country’s first legal guidelines on facilitating peak carbon emissions. 

“The Opinions on the provision of judicial services to promote carbon emissions peaking and neutrality” provides guidelines for courts at all levels on adjudicating cases involving carbon, Liu Zhumei, head of the supreme court’s Environmental Resources Court, told Xinhua

The document covers four areas: the green transition of the whole economy and society, industrial restructuring, energy transition, and carbon trade. For each, it provides recommendations for addressing the common types of cases in dispute.

For the green transition, it mentions prioritising ecological restoration when adjudicating cases regarding greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution control, including asking infringers to purchase carbon sink products to compensate for damage. 

In terms of industry and energy transition, it recommends gradually phasing out outdated industrial production capacity, while ensuring the “just transition” of carbon-intensive industries. It also stresses the importance of energy security while the clean energy system is being developed. 

As for renewable energy, it says it is crucial to manage the relationship between ecological preservation of deserts, including the Gobi, and the demand for land to build large-scale wind and solar-power facilities.

As carbon-trading disputes increase, it suggests clarifying the rights and responsibilities of buying and selling allowances on the national carbon market, to promote market liquidity and reasonable carbon prices. It prioritises data quality in greenhouse gas emission reporting cases, to deter falsification and provide legal protection for the carbon market‘s development.

Along with the Opinions, the supreme court also released a series of case studies, summarising 11 nationwide legal disputes on environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. These cases are expected to provide a reference for future sentencing in similar cases.

Read China Dialogue’s earlier report on how China’s courts implement climate policy.