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Could campaign-style enforcement improve environmental performance? Evidence from China's central environmental protection inspection

Jia, Kai, Chen, Shaowei
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.245 pp. 282-290
air pollution, environmental governance, environmental performance, environmental protection, issues and policy, models, China
It's critical for environmental governance to understand the effectiveness of various policy interventions as well as their working mechanisms. This paper focuses on the campaign-style enforcement, a sort of policy intervention understudied in environmental governance literature. Specifically, we study the central environmental protection inspection (CEPI), an unprecedented environmental campaign recently launched by the central authority of China. Apart from the dominant recoupling perspective that emphasized the role of environmental campaign in addressing decoupling problems, we assert in this paper that CEPI could serve as strong external stimulus that help to overcome various root problems in environmental governance system and therefore engender long-term improvements for environmental performance. Empirically, based on the city-day air pollution data, difference-in-difference (DID) model with multiple treatment periods was applied to estimate both the short- and long-term policy effects of CEPI. We found that CEPI did has positive effects on improving environmental performance. Moreover, this positive policy effect, rather than fading away after CEPI, bumped up and persisted in the aftermath of the inspection. These findings imply that campaign-style enforcement, when properly used, could be an effective tool for policymakers to improve environmental performance.