Edited by P. J. Lloyd and Xiao-guang Zhang
Chapter 17: Local health and the global environment: an integrated assessment of air pollution control in China
Chao Yang Peng* INTRODUCTION Rapid economic growth in China poses a great environmental challenge. The increase in energy consumption, particularly the dominance of coal in China’s fossil fuels, has resulted in severe environmental degradation. It has been estimated that China incurred at least US$54 billion, equivalent to nearly 8 per cent of GDP, in damage in 1995 (World Bank 1997, p. 2). While the greatest source of such damage is urban air pollution, the environmental impact goes beyond China’s borders. Sulphur emissions from the combustion of coal, for example, cause acid rain, which falls in neighbouring countries and harms the ecosystems in the region. At the global level, emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels enhance the greenhouse effect and contribute to global warming. A wide range of abatement measures is available to tackle these environmental problems. Policy responses targeting each problem in isolation, however, can fall into the trap of a fragmented approach, with competing or inconsistent policies and attrition between agencies with different mandates. Local air pollution, for example, given its adverse health impact, should be given top priority in China. Locally motivated air quality programmes, such as one that promotes only the use of electrostatic precipitators, while effective in reducing particulate emissions, will have limited beneﬁts in terms of reducing acid rain and protecting the global climate. Measures targeting the sources of pollution, however, such as improving energy efﬁciency to reduce the use of fossil fuels, can achieve synergy in reducing...
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