The quest for improved air quality may push China to continue its CO2 reduction beyond the Paris Commitment.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

China is challenged with the simultaneous goals of improving air quality and mitigating climate change. The "Beautiful China" strategy, launched by the Chinese government in 2020, requires that all cities in China attain 35 μg/m3 or below for annual mean concentration of PM2.5 (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm) by 2035. Meanwhile, China adopts a portfolio of low-carbon policies to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pledged in the Paris Agreement. Previous studies demonstrated the cobenefits to air pollution reduction from implementing low-carbon energy policies. Pathways for China to achieve dual targets of both air quality and CO2 mitigation, however, have not been comprehensively explored. Here, we couple an integrated assessment model and an air quality model to evaluate air quality in China through 2035 under the NDC scenario and an alternative scenario (Co-Benefit Energy [CBE]) with enhanced low-carbon policies. Results indicate that some Chinese cities cannot meet the PM2.5 target under the NDC scenario by 2035, even with the strictest end-of-pipe controls. Achieving the air quality target would require further reduction in emissions of multiple air pollutants by 6 to 32%, driving additional 22% reduction in CO2 emissions relative to the NDC scenario. Results show that the incremental health benefit from improved air quality of CBE exceeds 8 times the additional costs of CO2 mitigation, attributed particularly to the cost-effective reduction in household PM2.5 exposure. The additional low-carbon energy polices required for China's air quality targets would lay an important foundation for its deep decarbonization aligned with the 2 °C global temperature target.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Xing, J; Lu, X; Wang, S; Wang, T; Ding, D; Yu, S; Shindell, D; Ou, Y; Morawska, L; Li, S; Ren, L; Zhang, Y; Loughlin, D; Zheng, H; Zhao, B; Liu, S; Smith, KR; Hao, J

Published Date

  • November 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 117 / 47

Start / End Page

  • 29535 - 29542

PubMed ID

  • 33168731

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7703636

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.2013297117


  • eng