On November 17, 2020, at its 10th session, the XIV National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam approved the Law on Environmental Protection. The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 includes 16 chapters, 171 articles (down 04 (four) chapters, an increase of 1 (one) article compared to the Law on Environmental Protection 2014). The Law takes effect from January 1, 2022 ; specifically, Clause 3, Article 29 of this Law takes effect from February 1, 2021.
Basically, the Law has inherited and promoted positive factors in the implementation of legal regulations on environmental protection over time, added new contents, overcome shortcomings, limitations and inadequacies on environmental protection of previous regulations. The Law on Environmental Protection in 2020 has put the regulations on protection of environmental components first, clearly showing the cross-cutting goal of protecting environmental components, and protecting people's health as the central and decisive content for other environmental protection policies. The Law has also synchronised environmental management tools for each phase of the project, starting from the consideration of investment policy, project appraisal, project implementation until the project goes into official operation. and finalize the project.
The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 has new points and main provisions as follows:
1. Some contents on the interpretation of terms and general provisions in the law:
The Law on Environmental Protection (Environmental Protection) 2020 has 38 contents on the interpretation of terms, an increase of 9 contents compared to the Law on Environmental Protection 2014, including new contents such as: preliminary assessment of environmental impacts; environmental registration; persistent pollutants; trial operation of waste treatment works; residential community; greenhouse gas emission quotas, etc. In particular, the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 has added “residential community” to the scope of regulation and application to affirm the position and role of this important group of objects in the public sector. Environmental protection activities as well as implementing one of the cross-cutting objectives of the Law is to protect people's health and ensure people live in a healthy environment.In addition, the Law also stipulates: Principles of environmental protection; State on environmental protection; Prohibited acts in environmental protection activities, etc. are shown in Articles 3 to 6 of the Law.
2. Environmental protection of natural heritage:
The Law has dedicated a separate Section (Section 4, Chapter II) to regulate the environmental protection of natural heritage, including regulations on natural heritage; the establishment and recognition of natural heritage; contents on environmental protection of natural heritage (investigation, assessment, management, responsibilities of agencies, organizations, residential communities, households and individuals in the protection of natural heritage).
3. Issuance of environmental criteria to classify investment projects, preliminary assessment of environmental impacts:
The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 has promulgated a separate section (Section 2, Chapter IV), from Article 28 to Article 29 to prescribe environmental criteria for classifying investment projects, under which investment projects are classified into 04 (four) group to carry out legal procedures on environmental protection as prescribed. In addition, the Law stipulates that the project target group must carry out a preliminary environmental impact assessment.
4. Enhance information disclosure, consultation, and promote the role of the community in environmental protection activities:
The issue of information disclosure has been regulated throughout and uniformly in the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 according to specific contents on environmental protection in Chapters of the Law, along with a separate clause regulating the provision and disclosure of information on the environment. For the appraisal and approval of EIA reports, the issues of consultation with the project, the publicity of EIA reports are also specified in Article 36, 37, 38 Law on Environmental Protection, in order to ensure the principles of environmental protection according to the provisions of Article 4 of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020. The Law also stipulates the responsibility of the project owner in consulting with relevant parties.
5. Environmental Permit:
For the first time, the Law on Environmental Protection promulgates a separate Section (Section 4, Chapter IV) to regulate environmental permits, which are regulated from Article 39 to Article 49. Accordingly, there are 03 (three) groups of regulations that are subject to subject to an environmental permit; in addition, the issues of: environmental license content; licensing authority; the basis and time of licensing; dossiers, order and procedures for licensing; granting, changing, adjusting, re-granting, stripping the right to use and withdrawing environmental permits; rights and obligations of project owners granted environmental permits. In particular, the Law also stipulates that from the effective date of the Environmental License, the decision to approve the appraisal results of environmental impact assessment reports and component environmental license that expires (Clause 6, Article 42).
6. Environmental protection by industry and field:
Environmental protection by industry and field is specified in a chapter of the Law on Environmental Protection from Articles 50 to Article 71. In which, the following issues are specified: environmental protection in production, business and service activities; Urban and rural environmental protection; Environmental protection in a number of areas, etc. Especially for the content of rural environmental protection, the Law stipulates the requirements for rural environmental protection, responsibilities for rural environment protection of relevant agencies and organisations.
7. Waste management and control of other pollutants:
The contents of waste management and control of other pollutants are regulated from Article 72 to Article 88, in which the issues of daily-life solid waste management are specified more specifically and clearly: regulations on classification, storage and transfer; cost of collection and transportation; pollution treatment, environmental improvement of domestic solid waste landfills, etc. Accordingly, the regulations aim to promote people to classify and minimise domestic solid waste generated at the source, if this is not done then the cost of daily-life solid waste treatment will be high, guidance on managing and treating waste, etc. In addition, the Law also stipulates the responsibilities of People's Committees at all levels, agencies and organisations, households and individuals in the management of daily-life solid waste.
8. Concretise regulations on responding to climate change (CC), promoting the development of the domestic carbon market:
The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 has added regulations on adaptation to climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and protection of the ozone layer, which defines the content and responsibilities of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the ministries, relevant sectors and localities on climate change adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions; supplementing regulations on integrating the content of response to climate change into the system of strategies, planning, implementation of international commitments on climate change and protection of the ozone layer, shown in Articles 90 to 96 of the Law.
9. For the first time, regulations on environmental economic development and environmental audit in order to strengthen the capacity and efficiency of environmental management:
The Law on Environmental Protection 2020 has added content on environmental economic development and environmental audit to enhance resources, capacity and efficiency in environmental management. Including regulations on: policies on development of environmental industry, environmental services, environmentally friendly products and services; green shopping; exploitation, use and development of natural capital; circular economy, etc. is reflected in Articles 142 to 147. The Law on Environmental Protection has also supplemented the provision that the State Audit Office of Vietnam shall conduct audits in the field of environment in accordance with the provisions of the Law on State Audit and the law. relevant laws in Article 160 of the Law on Environmental Protection.
Source: the Internet