VLS Strengthens U.S.-China Partnership
January 9, 2010
December 2009 was a busy month for Vermont Law School's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, whose team took a number of steps to strengthen its thriving relationship with the Asian nation.
On Dec. 7, VLS President and Dean Jeff Shields met with Vice President Zhu Yong of the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) to bolster academic collaboration between VLS and CUPL. A formal memorandum of understanding was signed by Dean Shields and CUPL President Huang Jin.
VLS also renewed its MOU with Sun Yat-sen University Law School for another three years. The MOU, which was signed Dec. 11, extends the general framework for cooperation between VLS and SYSU. The agreement is implemented on the VLS side through the VLS China partnership. Dean Jeff Shields signed the MOU for VLS and Dean Xu Zhongming signed it for SYSU Law School.
VLS also met with the National Development and Reform Commission Training Center on Dec. 9 to discuss joint training activities. The two partners agreed to sponsor training workshops on energy efficiency and environmental impact assessment issues faced by Chinese state-owned enterprises that extract natural resources abroad.
In addition, VLS hosted two events. Michael Dworkin, director of the VLS Institute for Energy and the Environment, and Regulatory Assistance Project Director David Moskovitz led a workshop on electric power resource planning, wholesale electric power markets reform and potential "smart-grid" developments at the State Electric Regulatory Commission. The Dec. 8 event included the directors and senior officials of six major departments of the agency.
On Dec. 9, VLS Professor David Mears, director of the VLS Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, led an environmental law clinic roundtable at CUPL's Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims. Faculty from CUPL, Renmin University Law School and Beijing Normal University Law School participated in the roundtable.
VLS China partnership staff members and Dean Shields also met with U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman to discuss VLS's activities and environmental governance challenges in China. Professor Tseming Yang, director of the China partnership, said climate change has become a dominant issue in U.S.-China relations, so the VLS team emphasized that China's efforts to combat pollution would be strengthened by addressing traditional concerns and bolstering the basic need for good governance and the rule of law.
In October, VLS received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand its U.S.-China partnership program over the next three years. The grant, which extended a $1.8 million USAID funding agreement in 2006, enables VLS to continue helping China to strengthen enforcement of its environmental and energy laws.
China's rapid growth in manufacturing has resulted in severe environmental problems, including the production of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and pollution worldwide.
In 2006, VLS in collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University launched the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law in response to the lack of knowledge, skills, and academic infrastructure needed to address environmental and energy challenges in China through the rule of law.
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