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Comparative Analysis of Air Pollution Trading in the United States and China

March 2006

Citation: ELR 10234

Author: Heather Jarvis and Wei Xu

Editors' Summary: As in the United States, acid rain is becoming quite problematic for the People's Republic of China. Unlike the United States, however, China does not have a comprehensive trading program for controlling sulfur dioxide (SO2), a primary cause of acid rain. After comparing the different legal regimes of China and the United States, Heather Jarvis and Wei Xu examine the U.S. acid rain SO emissions cap-and-trade program. They then make several recommendations for a similar program in China, taking into account the composition of market participants, the decisionmaking powers of participants, and the role of central government. They conclude that despite the political, economic, and social differences between these two nations, China can learn from the U.S. experiences and implement a highly successful cap-and-trade program of its own.

This Article is the culmination of collaborative research and cooperation between the authors while law students at Vermont Law School (VLS) in South Royalton, Vermont, United States, and Sun Yat-Sen University Law School in Guangzhou, Guandong Province, China. The collaborative project was made possible by the Lingnan Foundation and Profs. Tseming Yang (VLS) and Li Zhiping (Sun Yat-Sen University). Prof. Richard Brooks (VLS) provided understanding and insight about the U.S. Clean Air Act. Heather Jarvis graduated in May 2005 and was admitted to the Vermont Bar in November 2005. In her work, she continues to seek solutions that lessen the environmental impact of global energy use. Wei Xu is a graduate student at Sun Yat-Sen University, majoring in Environmental Law. She passed the Chinese equivalent of the bar exam in the fall of 2005 and will graduate from the university in June 2006.

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