Environmental Agency to Penalize City Goverments that Fail to Meet National Air Quality Standards

October 27, 2005

State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) officials announced that they will penalize city governments in China that fail to reach national air quality standards, according to an October 24 Xinhua article. SEPA made the announcements after the Forum of Strategic Approaches to Regional Air Quality Management in China concluded in Beijing on October 24. SEPA officials will attempt to dissuade potential investors from investing in cities identified as having substandard air quality for "several consecutive years," according to the report. SEPA will also intervene to manage construction projects that could increase air pollution in cities that have the worst air quality levels. The article also reports that SEPA is developing a program to control sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.

About one-fifth of the urban population in China lives in seriously polluted environments. The October 24 Xinhua report noted that China had the highest rate of sulfur dioxide emissions in the world in 2004. Moreover, Beijing's air quality is rated as the second lowest of 84 cities, according to an October 25 Xinhua report. A Chinese government study found that more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of breathing polluted air, according to an October 25 AFP article. SEPA publishes daily air quality reports on the SEPA Web site.