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Clearer Skies Over China

Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals

Chris P. Nielsen

Publication Year: 2013

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards. This book, a U.S.--Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

Published by: The MIT Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

The research of this book expands the inquiry into local and global air pollution in China of our 2007 edited volume, Clearing the Air: The Health and Economic Damages of Air Pollution in China, also from MIT Press. That study grew from a mandate in the mid-1990s of the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) to bring scholars together ...

Part I: Introduction, Review, and Summary

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1. Atmospheric Environment in China: Introduction and Research Review

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pp. 3-58

With each passing year, the future of the global environment becomes more affected by policy choices that China is making regarding its economy, use of energy, and atmospheric environment. Other nations further along the development path bear greater historical responsibility for the atmospheric loading of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that drive global climate change: ...

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2. Summary: Sulfur Mandates and Carbon Taxes for 2006–2010

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pp. 59-102

China’s decision makers and ordinary citizens face a difficult confluence of problems in economic development, energy use, environmental degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions, as laid out in chapter 1. A key feature of the challenge is the intimate links between fossil fuel use, the impact of air pollution on public health and agriculture, and carbon dioxide emissions. ...

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3. Summary: Carbon Taxes for 2013–2020

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pp. 103-158

The Chinese government asserts that its contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) control should be based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” agreed to under the 1992 United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), by which wealthier nations are to take the lead. It recognizes that some level of explicit GHG control is inevitable, ...

Part II: Studies of the Assessment

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4. Primary Air Pollutant Emissions of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China

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pp. 161-202

Coal is the primary energy source for Chinese power generation. As shown in figure 4.1, thermal power has maintained a large share of both electricity output and installed capacity (82% and 76%, respectively, for 2005). For many years, thermal power has been fueled predominantly by coal with very small amounts by oil or gas. ...

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5. Primary Air Pollutants and CO2 Emissions from Cement Production in China

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pp. 203-224

China is the largest cement-producing and cement-consuming country in the world today. Cement production in China was 1.39 billion metric tons in 2008 (CMIIT 2009), which accounted for 50% of the world’s production (USGS 2009). Enormous quantities of air pollutants are emitted from cement production, including sulfur dioxide (SO 2), nitrogen oxides (NO X), ...

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6. An Anthropogenic Emission Inventory of Primary Air Pollutants in China for 2005 and 2010

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pp. 225-262

A regional emission inventory is a fundamental input into air quality modeling. Without accurate emission profiles of all relevant chemical species located in a sufficiently fine spatial distribution it would not be possible to simulate atmospheric concentrations and fluxes accurately—that is, to conduct simulations that can be confirmed by observations and can be used for policy analysis. ...

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7. Atmospheric Modeling of Pollutant Concentrations

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pp. 263-290

Pollutant concentrations near the surface of the earth are of central concern in protecting public health, agricultural productivity, and ecosystems. The mapping of surface concentrations from estimates of emissions like those developed in chapter 6 is seldom straightforward, however, as the atmosphere is a highly complex system in terms ...

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8. Benefits to Human Health and Agricultural Productivity of Reduced Air Pollution

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pp. 291-328

We have seen in prior chapters how the SO 2 controls of the 11th Five-Year Plan (11th FYP) or a tax of 100 yuan per ton of carbon (27 yuan per ton of CO 2) did reduce or would reduce emissions and concentrations of a variety of both primary and secondary air pollutants. Among the most powerful implications of either of these policies would be their very large effects on public health. ...

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9. The Economics of Environmental Policies in China

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pp. 329-372

As described in chapter 1, our overall objective is to develop a methodology for analyzing environmental policies that recognizes the main elements of the complex web of interactions between economic activity, energy use, emissions, air quality, and damages to public health and agriculture. ...

Part III: Appendixes

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pp. 373-374

Appendix A: Economic-Environmental Model of China

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pp. 375-392

Appendix B: The Valuation of Health Damages

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pp. 393-402

Appendix C: New Assumptions and Methods for the 2013–2020 Policy Cases

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pp. 403-406


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pp. 407-408


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pp. 409-434

E-ISBN-13: 9780262315418
E-ISBN-10: 0262315416
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262019880

Page Count: 444
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 861199744
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Clearer Skies Over China

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Subject Headings

  • Economic development -- China.
  • China -- Economic policy -- 2000-.
  • Environmental policy -- China.
  • Climatic changes -- Government policy -- China.
  • Air quality -- China.
  • Air -- Pollution -- China.
  • Economic development -- Environmental aspects -- China.
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