On July 20, the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Dezhou, Shandong Province, ordered the Jinghua Group Zhenhua Decoration Glass Limited Company to pay nearly 3.3 million dollars for its excessive emission of pollutants. More than a hundred tonnes of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and smoke dust were emitted, exceeding the maximum stipulated by regulations.
The All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF), which brought up the lawsuit in March 2015, based the potential amount of damages on the offending company’s operating costs, with the hope that the case can provide a route to successful public interest litigation in the future. Ma Yong, the former deputy head of ACEF’s Environmental Legal Services Center, said that “companies such as this one, which refuse to change despite repeated warnings, can only be dealt with through the courts”.
The case represents the first public interest lawsuit over air pollution in China. Such cases are quite rare, due to the difficulties involved in gathering evidence and assessing damages.