Tag Archives: air pollution

The US and China should focus on air pollution to tackle climate change

Zhang, Junjie. Why the US and China should focus on air pollution to tackle climate change. Asia Blog, 6 March, 2014. Retrieved 11 March, 2014, from http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-us-and-china-should-focus-air-pollution-tackle-climate-change

The U.S. and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), are seeking common ground for climate action. During his China trip in February, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.S.-China Joint Statement on Climate Change, which pledges to devote resources to “secure concrete results” by the 2014 U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue. While there is no shortage of ideas about what the bilateral climate collaboration might address, the challenge is to identify a focal issue that is economically beneficial and politically viable for both countries.

Neither China nor the U.S. has shown a willingness to take measures that will reduce GHG emissions if there are economic costs attached. On the Chinese side, GDP growth remains a top priority, and political leaders are reluctant to sacrifice GDP growth in order to reduce GHG emissions. In addition, GHG emissions are not a known indicator in China’s cadre performance appraisal system, which partly determines the career advancement of government officials. Such officials have no immediate incentive to make decisions aimed at limiting carbon emissions. In the United States, proposed laws and regulations to limit GHG emissions or put a price on carbon have repeatedly been turned back because of concerns over their impact on the economy.

Cooperation on climate change is most likely to occur in an area associated with positive economic, health, and social impacts. The nexus between climate change and air pollution represents an area in which the U.S. and China can create a host of benefits that should appeal to leaders and key constituencies.

Read the full story on Asia Blog


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Chinese cities’ air quality still quite low

brics“Majority of China’s cities fail air quality test”, The BRICS Post, March 8, 2014

Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing has rebuked a majority of Chinese cities saying that only three of 74 in a nation-wide study met national air quality standards.

Haikou, capital of southernmost Hainan Province, Zhoushan, an island city of east China’s Zhejiang Province, and Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region all had air quality which came under 100 in the AQI international measuring system.

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Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Thirty one provinces in China signed the “Objective responsibility deal for air pollution control”

The Minister of Environment Protection of the People’s Republic of China inked the “Objective Responsibility Deal for Air Pollution Control (大气污染防治目标责任书)” with 31 China provinces. The Deal establishes assessment measures for improving air quality in China. Among the objectives set, Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei have promised to decrease PM2.5 level by 25%, Shanxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang by 20%, and Guangdong, and Chongqing by 10%. This Deal can be viewed as a practical measure of environmental protection for local governments.

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Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Accelerating household access to clean cooking and heating

Working paper of the World Bank. 2013. China – Accelerating household access to clean cooking and heating. East Asia and Pacific clean stove initiative series. Washington DC ; World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/09/18451502/china-accelerating-household-access-clean-cooking-heating


The China Clean Stove Initiative (CSI), a collaborative effort of the Chinese government and the World Bank, aims to scale up access to clean cooking and heating stoves for poor, primarily rural households, who are likely to continue using solid fuels beyond 2030. More than half of China’s population still relies on solid fuels (coal and biomass) for cooking and heating; many of these households, located mainly in rural areas, are likely to continue using solid fuels in the near future. Switching to modern energy alternatives would be the most effective way to achieve clean cooking and heating solutions and should be encouraged; yet such fuels are more expensive than solid fuels, requiring more costly stoves and delivery infrastructure. Effective strategies to scale up the dissemination of clean burning, fuel-efficient stoves for household cooking and heating can mitigate the health hazards associated with the burning of solid fuels. It is estimated that Household Air Pollution (HAP) from solid fuel use results in more than a million premature deaths each year in China. Scaled-up access to clean and efficient stoves is consistent with China’s strategy to promote energy conservation, reduced carbon emissions, and green energy in villages. The China CSI comprises four phases: 1) initial stocktaking and development of the implementation strategy; 2) institutional strengthening, capacity building, and piloting of the strategy; 3) scaled-up program implementation; and 4) evaluation and dissemination of lessons learned. This report will serve as a knowledge base and roadmap to encourage and engage all interested parties in working together on this important agenda. The initial CSI stocktaking exercise calls for a comprehensive strategy comprising institutional strengthening and building of an enabling policy and regulatory environment, market and business development, and stimulation of household demand, supported by an innovative, results based financing approach.

Official PDF in English, 84 p.

Report also available in Chinese, 72 p.

Related documents


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Beijing’s new air quality warning system

Air pollution in Beijing, Goulard Sébastien

Last January, Beijing air pollution reached hazardous levels. This phenomenon was widely reported in the media (including here: –link to our post-). Eight months later, the Ministry of Environmental Protection unveiled a pilot plan for an air quality warning system to be shortly put into operation in Beijing and Tianjin1. With a better measurement index, China expects to have a clearer look at pollution reduction in Beijing.

This warning system will measure the effects of the new environmental policies launched over the last few months in Beijing2. These measures include limiting the use of cars, reducing coal consumption and upgrading Beijing’s polluting companies.

But, as Jing Li has pointed out3, these policies may not be efficient if implemented only in the capital city. Indeed, at least one fourth of Beijing’s pollution comes from factories located outside the municipality. Coordination needs to be strengthened at the regional or national level. The same environmental standards need to be implemented all over China, in order to prevent a divide between the urban, wealthy regions and rural, poor ones. Will this tough environmental policy affect the Chinese GDP? It is obvious that it will in the short term, but, as Huang points out, “It is entirely in China’s own interests to first reduce the energy intensity of its GDP growth and reduce the absolute levels of its carbon emissions4.

Other Chinese cities should not wait to reach the high pollution levels that Beijing has experienced before they react: they need to adopt the same measures, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  1. Beijing to issue air pollution warnings (October 1, 2013) Xinhua, http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-10/01/content_17007188.htm accessed October 6, 2013 []
  2. Beijing issues new measures aimed at curbing air pollution (September 2, 2013), Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/02/us-china-pollution-beijing-idUSBRE98108920130902, accessed October 6, 2013 []
  3. Jing Li (September 24, 2013), Quarter of Beijing’s air pollution originates from elsewhere, SCMP, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1316320/quarter-beijings-air-pollution-originates-elsewhere, accessed October 6, 2013 []
  4. Huang Yashen (October 2, 2013), For breathable air, China must reduce the costs of its growth”, SCMP, http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1322172/breathable-air-china-must-reduce-costs-its-growth, accessed October 6, 2013 []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Longing for blue skies

You may rediscover a beautiful and very interesting video made by OrvilleSchell about air pollution prior to  the Olympic games.

Video Description

Air pollution in an unfortunate consequence of China’s recent rapid development. The 2008 Olympics are focusing global attention on Beijing’s air quality. Despite government efforts to control the problem, it remains a serious challenge for both China and the world.

Video Source

Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia.



Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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China’s toxic sky

the Atlantic

(accessed 30 January 2013)

Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad — at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. However, long-term solutions seem distant, as China’s use of coal continues to rise, and the government remains slow to acknowledge and address the problems. * Starting with photo #2, a four-part set of these images is interactive, allowing you to click the photo and ‘clear the air’, viewing a difference over time.

[31 photos http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2013/01/chinas-toxic-sky/100449/]

the Atlantic related links and information

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Blue-sky thinking may need new Olympian vision

Blue-sky thinking may need new Olympian vision

Summer of 2008 remembered fondly for victory over air pollution, report Wu Wencong, Cui Jia and Tang Yue.

It’s now four and a half years since Beijing hosted the Olympic Games, and the event is frequently recalled with affection.

But the nostalgia is not centered on the fine displays of athleticism or the exciting opening ceremony. Instead, the smog and haze that have enveloped the capital in recent weeks have left people hankering for the blue skies and clean air that accompanied China’s sojourn in the sporting spotlight.

Du Shaozhong, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau in 2008, inevitably thinks of those days with great pride.

But he said the fresh air in 2008 was a special circumstance and the result of temporary anti-pollution measures, rather than something the city’s residents can expect all year round, at least for now. Read more on The China Daily  Wu Wencong, Cui Jia and Tang Yue, Thursay 24 January 2013)

China’s air pollution results from unchecked government: former official

Record-breaking ‘airpocalypse’ caused by unsupervised political power, says former senior environmental administrator Read more on The Guardian (Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing

China lets media report on air pollution crisis

The Chinese state news media on Monday published aggressive reports on what they described as the sickening and dangerous air pollution in Beijing and other parts of northern China, indicating that popular anger over air quality had reached a level where Communist Party propaganda officials felt that they had to allow the officially sanctioned press to address the growing concerns of ordinary citizens. Read more on The New York Times (Edward Wong in Beijing,  January 14, 2013)

China clean-air bid faces resistance

China’s government is facing stiff resistance from sprawling state-owned corporations and local interests in its bid to combat air pollution, in an early test for the nation’s new leaders following some of the worst air-quality days in recent memory. A consequence of decades of breakneck growth, China’s deep environmental problems are now seen as a potential obstacle to strong economic development, with concerns ranging from air pollution and water use to increasing consumption of fossil fuels.Read more on The Wall Street Journal  (Brian Spegele and Wayne Ma Bei in Beijing ,January 22, 2013)

Heavy fog envelops Nanchang, E China

Heavy fog envelops Nanchang, capital of east China’s Jiangxi Province, Jan. 14, 2013. Nanchang’s air has been heavily polluted for five days in a row, according to local meteorological authorities. (Xinhua/Zhou Mi). See the pictures

In pictures: Beijing pollution

Pictures from BBC News Asia, 13 January 2013. See the pictures

Video: Coal becomes the culprit as China’s cities choke

January 23, 2013 from LinkAsia via CCTV News
A cold winter has forced China to burn billions of tons of coal, joining vehicle exhaust as the major contributors to the catastrophic smog hitting cities. CCTV News speaks with Yang Fuqiang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who says that in order to combat air pollution, China must move away from using coal.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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