Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Pollution, Climate, and Economic Goals

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. 

Clearer Skies Over China

Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals
Order the book at MIT Press.


"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

"In terms of future directions [of China’s carbon] policy, what could they be? … [M]ost critically ... : the introduction of an effective regime of economy-wide carbon pricing. And I ... draw attention to … this book recently produced by Chris Nielsen and Mun Sing Ho. … [The] impact, and I think utility, of this particular study … is this: [the] carbon tax proposals put forward in this volume [confirm] the overall modest impact on overall consumption, and the modest impact on overall growth, of a carbon tax being applied. … I commend the study to you, and to our Chinese friends in the global policy debate, on how the most effective mitigation measures can be deployed [to] deal with climate change. " (Starting at 44:20 in the video here.)
Kevin RUDD, Former Prime Minister, Australia; President, Asia Society Policy Institute 

Clearer Skies "provides a wealth of information to help better understand the current environmental situation in China." It provides "... promising tools to continue to better understand and shape views on how China can solve its challenging environmental problems." ... "I highly recommend this book to policy makers in China and other developing countries faced with forming and evaluating environmental policies."
YU Songmin, book review in The Energy Journal (January 2016)

"With China’s air pollution in the global spotlight, Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, edited by Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho, is an informative and timely volume." ... "[T]he modeling work on which most of the analysis in this volume is based is both intricate and innovative." ... [The authors' results] "suggest that it is in China’s own national self-interest to price carbon to encourage energy transitions."
Joanna LEWIS, book review in Pacific Affairs (June 2015)

"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 isthe 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

"This important book presents the results of a project bringing together scholars from various institutions across the disciplines in China and the U.S." ... "The book is recommended for scholars and policymakers interested in dealing with air pollution in developing countries ... Everybody who uses China as an excuse for inaction on climate change ... should read this book."
Jan KUNNAS, book review in Electronic Green Journal (Spring 2015)

Book Chapters

Part I: Introduction, Review, and Summary

Atmospheric Environment in China: Introduction and Research Review, by Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho

Summary: Sulfur Mandates and Carbon Taxes for 2006-2010, by Chris P. Nielsen, Mun S. Ho, Yu Zhao, Yuxuan Wang, Yu Lei, and Jing Cao

Summary: Carbon Taxes for 2013-2020, by Chris P. Nielsen, Mun S. Ho, Jing Cao, Yu Lei, Yuxuan Wang, and Yu Zhao

Part II: Studies of the Assessment

Primary Air Pollutant Emissions of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China, by Yu Zhao

Primary Air Pollutants and CO2 Emissions from Cement Production in China, by Yu Lei, Qiang Zhang, Chris P. Nielsen, and Kebin He

An Anthropogenic Emission Inventory of Primary Air Pollutants in China for 2005 and 2010, by Yu Zhao, Wei Wei, and Yu Lei

Atmospheric Modeling of Pollutant Concentrations, by Yuxuan Wang

Benefits to Human Health and Agricultural Productivity of Reduced Air Pollution, by Yu Lei

The Economics of Environmental Policies in China, by Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, and Dale W. Jorgenson

Part III: Appendixes

Appendix A: Economic-Environmental Model of China, by Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, and Dale W. Jorgenson

Appendix B: The Valuation of Health Damages, by Yu Lei and Mun S. Ho

Appendix C: New Assumptions and Method for the 2013-2020 Policy Cases, by Yu Zhao, Yuxuan Wang, Yu Lei, and Chris P. Nielsen