Record High Pollution Fuels China’s Concern

by / Wednesday, 16 January 2013 / Published in iCORE, International RE

With recent focus on the air quality in China, we can’t help but think about the impact that record high levels of pollution will have on commercial real estate growth and investment in these developing areas.

While closely monitoring pollution and air quality for the past several years, the Chinese government only began publishing air quality readings of PM 2.5 numbers, particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter that are associated with higher risk of cancer, last January. Over the past year, daily readings have spurred controversy and concern.

In a New York Times article published in January of 2012, Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, stated that PM 2.5 particulates would replace smoking as China’s top cause of lung cancer. Despite flat smoking rates, the cancer rate in Beijing has risen 60% in the past decade.

Arguing that the small sample sizes are unrepresentative of the overall air quality, the Chinese government has urged the public to take all data into account and not jump to conclusions. One thing is certain; the increased transparency around air quality and pollution is fueling a healthy debate about standards and regulations for this developing area.

Tightening air quality standards in all industrial countries over the past several years, combined with increased transparency of current pollution levels, are heightening the pressure on China to implement stricter measures that reduce pollution.

With mounting pressure to establish a sustainable development model for China, companies are sure to experience a change in regulations and standards. We’ll be monitoring the debate as it unfolds especially as it pertains to the growth and investment of commercial real estate in China.