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.
About the Editors
Chris P. Nielsen is Executive Director of the Harvard China Project in Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Mun S. Ho is Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science.
"The integrated analytical approach taken in this book is a remarkable effort. This is the clearest and best book I have read on air pollution in China, and the only one to tackle the issue in such an authoritative and comprehensive way. It gives a clear sense of how to put substance on the possibilities and benefits of a low-carbon economy while still pursuing substantial economic growth."
—Arthur J. Hanson, International Chief Advisor, China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development
"This book presents the strongest collaboration across the sciences and economics that I’ve seen on the challenges of building protection of air quality and global climate into China’s development. It is also a model international collaboration, one that will elevate understanding of China’s environmental present and future both at home and abroad."
—Qu Geping, founding administrator, National Environmental Protection Agency of China; past Chairman, Environment and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress
"This book is essential reading for scholars and policymakers interested in controlling air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. It is the first comprehensive treatment of the subject in China and contains all of the elements necessary for conducting similar analyses in other countries."
—Maureen Cropper, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Economics, University of Maryland; past President, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists; past Lead Economist, World Bank