The purpose of the Renewable Energy Law is to promote the development of the alternative sources of energy, which do not produce harmful effect on the environment, do not depend on the imported sources of energy and able to prevent energy shortages According to this law power grid operators are required to buy resources from the companies, who are listed among the renewable energy producers. The price for renewable energy is governmentally-controlled and set by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which is a regulatory department of the State Council.
However, this regulation will be only permanent in times of necessity . On the other hand, the law also offers financial incentives. Among the latter I can name a national fund created especially for the promotion of renewable energy as well as discounted lending and tax preferences for new projects involving renewable energy . The law also establishes the framework for the further development of the legislative base concerning alternative renewable sources of energy.
The law makes the list of the renewable energy, which includes hydroelectricity, geothermal, wind, solar and marine energy . The law was much appreciated by the representatives from Greenpeace. Thus, according to Yu Jie, Greenpeace energy policy advisor China could and should be a world leader in renewable energy development. If the definition of renewables and the details are right then the international community will get behind China and support its ambition to become an international clean energy powerhouse .
Jan Hamrin, Executive Director of the Center for Resource Solutions, considers that Chinese renewable energy law can be a sample to follow for other countries and that it is valuable not only from the point of view of environmental protection but will also contribute to the economic growth of the country. Jan Hamrin pointed that passing such comprehensive renewable energy legislation is a remarkable feat for any country. Passing one this rapidly is almost unheard of and reflects support for the law by Chinas top leadership .
One more aspect, which I would like to discuss in this part of the paper, is participation of the public in the legal process. Chinese government pays close attention to the environmental impact assessment. It involves public participation in the planning process and education of people about their rights. Thus, according to Ma Jun, water policy expert and director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Chinese government is no longer promoting development at all costs. There is now a philosophy of sustainable development. The government is talking about harmony between humans and the environment.
The government now lends an ear to dissenting voices, and it stops some of the worst projects Yu Xiaogang, who investigated government policy mentions that: We must include not only environmental impact assessment but also social impact assessment, including impacts on building a local sustainable economy and a harmonious society and on protecting human rights . So, further I will research the case study of the Manwan Hydropower Station and view how the hydropower law is applied in this case and how EIA and SIA were implemented for the regulation of this station.
2. Case study of the Manwan hydropower station One of the possible examples is the Manwan Hydropower Station evaluation. This is a hydropower station built in China, which was under the close examination of numerous researchers. In Social Impact Assessment researchers were driven by the necessity to forecast the social influence of various policies and projects, to provide scientific data, which will help to introduce necessary measures for the minimization of the negative impact, and finally to present a standardized scheme of sustainable development ideas .
One more valuable aspect of the research is that Manwan SIA did not only provide valuable data but also acts as a means of a process of public participation. It made the authority aware of the public mind and became an important tool for affecting the decision-making process . Environmental Impact assessment of the Manwan hydropower plant was also conducted in order to study various environmental consequences of the power plant construction. China government implemented a new EIA law, which contributed to the environmental security through establishment of new concepts.
These concepts concern the following aspects: influence of the hydropower plant on environment, effect on water environment as well as geological one, impacts on water and soil conservation, possible effect on navigation, co-existence with valuable cultural and historical sites, impact on the climate change in the area . However, if we consider social impact assessment aspect we will see that social impacts are not so well-defined in the legal practice of China. Legal framework of the country also fails to provide valuable clues for the elimination of negative social impacts of the hydropower plant construction.
One of the most valuable legal documents, regulating the social aspect of construction and operation of hydropower plants in China, is Rules of land compensation and people resettlement in medium and large hydraulic and hydroelectricity projects (issued by the State Council on Feb 15th, 1991). Some of the valuable statements of the law are given below: The government advocates and supports the resettlement for development by the measures of pre-compensation, subsidy and afterward supports. The land compensation and people resettlement for hydraulic and hydroelectricity projects should follow the principles of:
a) holding the right attitude towards the prioritized importance between state, collective and the individual, people need to be resettled and those in the resettlement destination areas should follow the designs to ensure the overall benefit to the state; b) working together with the project construction, resource exploitation, soil and water conservation and economic development, resettlement arrangements should be able to ensure the improvement of living conditions of the resettled to reach and exceed previous situations;
c) resettlement arrangements should be in the light of local conditions and the overall strategy of resource allocation. The priority arrangement should be moving back from the river bank to the inland in the same area. In case that there is no suitable places for the resettlement in the affected area, other arrangements can be carried out, such as wasteland cultivation, land reallocation and moving out to other regions. All of these measures must be consistent with relevant laws and regulations .
The other parts of the law concerning the resettlement are the following ones: People who must be resettled according to relevant plans cannot resist or delay the movement. People who have been resettled cannot move back to previous places without the permission of authorities. Activities that had broken the rules and affected the normal implementation of plans and projects must be punished according to the Regulations of penalty for public security and administration of the Peoples Republic of China.
For activities that had broken the criminal laws, relevant legal responsibilities should be investigated . In the process of the Social Impact Assessment for Manwan Hydropower Station the following objectives were pursued: First of all the research was intended to give the data for authorities and project investors, which could be valuable source for solving the problems associated with the people resettlement. Second, SIA aimed to create a communication channel, which will help people affected by hydropower plant project to express their viewpoints and rights.
Finally, SIA for Manwan Hydropower station intended to serve the base for the creation of a legal framework for SIA, which is essential for making important decisions and implementation of development projects . SIA stood on the viewpoint that those individuals, who were affected by the project, are the best sources of information in the question of project impact on society. SIA was wisely conducted making use of various valuable tools like resource map, history of ecological change, record of great events, SWOT analysis, radical impact analysis, institutional analysis, social gender analysis as well as case study .
In the process of Social Impact Assessment researchers investigated numerous problems. One of the main ones was associated with the living difficulties of people, who were resettled in the process of project implementation. It was proven that resettled peopled faced numerous problems such as farmland, food and water shortages, energy difficulties and bad health. These difficulties are more serious in disadvantaged groups . It was also proven that people suffered from ecological problems and serious environment damages caused by the hydropower plant and construction of the water reservoir.
SIA also revealed the lack of public participation in the process of resettlement and project implementation. One more problem defined was unequal resource allocation, which was caused by several reasons such as under-estimation of the actual quantity of people, who were subjected to resettlement, under-estimation of property loss and financial cost of resettlement. However, I would like to mention one more problem, which was revealed in the process of the Social Impact Assessment, and which should be managed in order to prevent the appearance of the likewise problems in future.
It became obvious that in the process of the project implementation majority of the problems appeared due to the outdated policies and legal base, especially ones dealing with resettlement . Based on the data obtained in the process of the Social Impact Assessment the following suggestions were made: higher emphasis should be made on resettlement in the process of the project implementation; public participatory mechanism should be created in order to ensure cooperation of the authorities and ordinary people in the process of decision making;
new allocation mechanism should be implemented and greater emphasis should be placed on the financial support of the affected regions; greater attention should be paid to the problems of gender equity and support of disadvantaged groups in areas, affected by the construction of the hydropower plant; authorities and investors of the hydropower plant projects should pay more attention and be more responsible for the lives of the people resettled in the process of the plant construction;
greater emphasis should be placed on the ecological development of the areas affected by hydropower plant activity and areas, where people were resettled; capacity building of administrative institutions should be strengthened; participatory SIA should be implicated for other construction projects . Im sure that the SIA of the Manwan hydropower plant has a great impact on the development of the regulation policies of hydropower development in general. It draws closer attention of the politicians and authorities to the human aspect of this process.
Thus, is was stated that hydropower is a beneficial alternative source of power, however, it should be developed according to the norms, which will ensure safety and benefits to the majority of the population and be a guarantee of the human rights of people, involving economic, political and cultural ones.