Beijing Issues New Rules to Control Air Pollution

January 28, 2014


The Beijing Municipal People’s Congress passed the “Regulation on Prevention and Control of Air Pollution in Beijing” on January 22, 2014, banning new construction and instating measures for the reduction of air pollution in response to widespread public dissatisfaction with and negative investor sentiment toward prior enforcement efforts. The regulation will take effect on March 1, 2014.

The regulation requires the Municipal government to take the lead in carrying out a series of measures to improve air quality in Beijing, and also requires local district and county governments, enterprises, and the general public to actively participate in the initiatives led by the Municipal government. According to the regulation, Beijing will control and gradually reduce the total discharge volume of air pollutants by setting yearly quotas for district and county governments and individual polluters. The Municipal government may promulgate air pollutant discharge and control standards with more stringent requirements than the national standards.

The regulatory ban on new projects includes the expansion of existing projects and extends generally to projects that “heavily pollute.” The Municipal government is required to periodically publish and adjust the list of industries that are considered heavy polluters. This is consistent with China’s foreign investment policies in recent years under which foreign-invested projects with heavy pollution are generally “unwelcome” in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

The regulation reiterates that the developer of any project (including improvements and expansions) that will discharge pollutants into the air should complete an environmental impact assessment of the project prior to the commencement of construction work. In addition, air pollutant treatment facilities for the project should be designed and constructedconcurrently with the project itself. The main project must not be put into use until the treatment facilities have been completed and approved by the relevant environmental authority.

We will provide further updates as the Beijing Municipality moves to implement the new regulation.

This memorandum is a summary for general information and discussion only and may be considered an advertisement for certain purposes. It is not a full analysis of the matters presented, may not be relied upon as legal advice, and does not purport to represent the views of our clients or the Firm. Eric Rothenberg, an O'Melveny partner licensed to practice law in Missouri and New York, Qiang Li, an O'Melveny partner licensed to practice law in New York, and Stewart Wang, an O'Melveny associate licensed to practice law in New York and Shanghai, contributed to the content of this newsletter. The views expressed in this newsletter are the views of the authors except as otherwise noted.

Portions of this communication may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please direct all inquiries regarding New York's Rules of Professional Conduct to O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Times Square Tower, 7 Times Square, New York, NY, 10036, Phone:+1-212-326-2000. © 2014 O'Melveny & Myers LLP. All Rights Reserved.