The right of access to environmental information is important in promoting informed decision-making and participation in environmental matters. While this right is recognised in international law by the Aarhus Convention, the Convention does not prescribe how Parties are to implement the right. Additionally, a significant number of jurisdictions outside the UNECE area, including China, are not Party to the Convention and are not legally bound to the obligations within it. As a result, each jurisdiction has a unique regime that implements the right of access to environmental information, with different strengths and weaknesses.
This paper will critique how China and England have implemented the right of access to environmental information, focusing on the impact of their distinct legal systems and political ideologies. The paper proposes that both jurisdictions could draw inspiration for reform from each other’s environmental information regimes through the application of legal transplant theory. This theory explores why States adopt “foreign” legal procedures and what factors influence such adoptions. The paper also considers the impact of such reforms on the respective legal systems and on the right of access to environmental information more generally.