Atmospheric Emissions

Xiannuan Lin and Karen R. Polenske. 1998. “Energy use and air-pollution impacts of China’s transportation growth.” In Energizing China: Reconciling Environmental Protection and Economic Growth, edited by Michael B. McElroy, Chris P Nielsen, Peter Lydon, and eds.. Cambridge, MA: HUCE/Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As China develops its booming, fossil fuel-powered economy, is it taking lessons from the history of Western industrialization and the unforeseen environmental harms that accompanied it? Given the risks of climate change, is there an imperative, shared responsibility to help China respond to the environmental effects of its coal dependence? By linking global hazards to local air pollution concerns—from indoor stove smoke to burgeoning ground-level ozone—this volume of eighteen studies seeks integrated strategies to address simultaneously a range of harmful emissions. Counterbalancing the scientific inquiry are key chapters on China’s unique legal, institutional, political, and cultural factors in effective pollution control.

Energizing China, the stage-setting publication of an ongoing program of Harvard–China research collaboration, is distinguished by its conceptual breadth and spirit of exchange. Its contributors include twenty-two Western and seventeen Chinese scholars with a disciplinary reach that includes science, public health, engineering, economics, public policy, law, business, and China studies.

Yi-Ming Wei, Lan-Cui Liu, Ying Fan, and Gang Wu. 2007. “The impact of lifestyle on energy use and CO2 emission: An empirical analysis of China’s residents.” Energy Policy, 35, 1, Pp. 247-257. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Based on the application of a Consumer Lifestyle Approach (CLA), this paper quantifies the direct and indirect impact of lifestyle of urban and rural residents on China's energy use and the related CO2 emissions during the period 1999–2002. The results show that approximately 26 per cent of total energy consumption and 30 per cent of CO2 emission every year are a consequence of residents’ lifestyles, and the economic activities to support these demands. For urban residents the indirect impact on energy consumption is 2.44 times greater than the direct impact. Residence; home energy use; food; and education, cultural and recreation services are the most energy-intensive and carbon-emission-intensive activities. For rural residents, the direct impact on energy consumption is 1.86 times that of the indirect, and home energy use; food; education, and cultural recreation services; and personal travel are the most energy-intensive and carbon-emission-intensive activities. This paper provides quantitative evidence for energy conservation and environmental protection focused policies. China's security for energy supply is singled out as a serious issue for government policy-makers, and we suggest that government should harmonize the relationships between stakeholders to determine rational strategies.
Yuan Hu. 2007. “Implementation of voluntary agreements for energy efficiency in China.” Energy Policy, 35, 11, Pp. 5541-5548. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Low-energy efficiency and environmental pollution have long been taken as key problems of Chinese industry, although a number of command-and-control and economic instruments have been adopted in the last few decades. In this paper, policy and legislation development for voluntary agreements were summarized. The voluntary agreements pilot project in two iron and steel companies in Shandong Province as well as other cases were analyzed. In order to identify the existing problems in Chinese cases, comparison was made between China and industrialized countries in the practices of energy efficiency voluntary agreements. Based on the analysis, detained recommendations, including the use of supporting policies for voluntary agreements, were raised. It is expected that voluntary agreements could play a more important role in energy efficiency improvement of Chinese industry.
Yanxia Zhang, Haikun Wang, Sai Liang, Ming Xu, Weidong Liu, Shalang Li, Rongrong Zhang, Chris P Nielsen, and Jun Bi. 2014. “Temporal and spatial variations in consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions in China.” Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 40, Pp. 60-68. Publisher's VersionAbstract

China’s CO2 emissions have sharply increased in recent years with soaring economic development and urbanization. Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions could provide new insights for allocating regional mitigation responsibility and curbing the emissions. A multi-regional input–output model is used to study the trends and disparities of consumption-based emissions from Chinese provinces during the period 2002–2007. Results show that China’s consumption-based CO2 emissions grew from 3549 Mt in 2002 to 5403 Mt in 2007 with an annual average growth rate of 8.8%. The annual growth rate in the richer eastern region was over 10% because of a rapid increase in capital investment and the growth of urban consumption. Consumption-based CO2 emissions embodied in interprovincial trades contributed only 10% (351 Mt) to the national total of such emissions in 2002, but 16% (864 Mt) in 2007. Given low per capita emissions currently, China’s consumption-based emissions have much room to grow because of further development of urbanization and stimulation of domestic demand. The government should pay greater attention to controlling CO2 emissions from a consumption-based perspective.

Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. 2007. “Air pollution and health damages in China: An introduction and review.” In Clearing the air: The health and economic damages of air pollution in China, edited by Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
An interdisciplinary, quantitative assessment of the health and economic costs of air pollution in China, and of market-based policies to build environmental protection into economic development.
Shuxiao Wang, Jiming Hao, Mun S Ho, Ji Li, and Yongqi Lu. 2006. “Intake fractions of industrial air pollutants in China: Estimation and application.” Science of the Total Environment, 354, Pp. 127-141. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Intake fractions, an emissions-intake relationship for primary pollutants, are defined and are estimated in order to make simple estimates of health damages from air pollution. The sulfur dioxide (SO2) and total suspended particles (TSP) intake fractions for five cities of China are estimated for the four main polluting industries—electric power generation, mineral (mostly cement) products industry, chemical process industry and metallurgical industry (mainly iron and steel smelting). The Industrial Source Complex Long Term (ISTLT3) model is used to simulate the spatial distribution of incremental ambient concentrations due to emissions from a large sample of site-specific sources. Detailed population distribution information is used for each city. The average intake fractions within 50 km of these sources are 4.4 × 10- 6 for TSP, and 4.2 × 10- 6 for SO2, with standard deviations of 8.15 × 10- 6 and 9.16 × 10- 6, respectively. They vary over a wide range, from 10- 7 to 10- 5. Although the electric power generation has been the focus of much of the air pollution research in China, our results show that it has the lowest average intake fraction for a local range among the four industries, which highlights the importance of pollutant emissions from other industrial sources. Sensitivity analyses show how the intake fractions are affected by the source and pollutant characteristics, the most important parameter being the size of the domain. However, the intake fraction estimates are robust enough to be useful for evaluating the local impacts on human health of primary SO2 and TSP emissions. An application of intake fractions is given to demonstrate how this approach provides a rapid population risk estimate if the dose-response function is linear without threshold, and hence can help in prioritizing pollution control efforts.
Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. 2007. “Summary for research.” In Clearing the air: The health and economic damages of air pollution in China, edited by Mun S Ho and Chris P Nielsen. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
An interdisciplinary, quantitative assessment of the health and economic costs of air pollution in China, and of market-based policies to build environmental protection into economic development.
Karen Fisher-Vanden. 2003. “The effects of market reforms on structural change: Implications for energy use and carbon emissions in China.” Energy Journal, 24, 3, Pp. 27-62. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This paper assesses the role played by market reforms in shaping the future level and composition of production, energy use, and carbon emissions in China. Arguments have been made that reducing distortions in China's economy through market reforms will lead to energy efficiency improvements and lower carbon emissions in China. However, these arguments are based on partial and not general equilibrium analyses, and therefore overlook the effects of market reforms on economic growth and structural change. The results suggest that further implementation of market reforms could result in a structural shift to less carbon-intensive production and thus lower carbon emissions per unit GDP. However, this fall in carbon intensity is not enough to compensate for the greater use of energy as a result of market reforms due to higher economic growth and changes in the composition of production. Therefore, China's transition to a market economy could result in significantly higher economic growth, energy use, and carbon emissions. These results could have implications for other countries considering or undergoing market transition.
Yu Zhao. 2013. “Primary Air Pollutant Emissions of Coal-Fired Power Plants in China.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 161-202. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

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.

Y. Zhou, Jonathan I Levy, James K Hammitt, and John S Evans. 2003. “Estimating population exposure to power plant emissions using CALPUFF: A case study in Beijing, China.” Atmospheric Environment, 37, 6, Pp. 815-826. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Epidemiological studies have shown a significant association between ambient particulate matter (PM) exposures and increased mortality and morbidity risk. Power plants are significant emitters of precursor gases of fine particulate matter. To evaluate the public health risk posed by power plants, it is necessary to evaluate population exposure to different pollutants. The concept of intake fraction (the fraction of a pollutant emitted that is eventually inhaled or ingested by a population) has been proposed to provide a simple summary measure of the relationship between emissions and exposure. Currently available intake fraction estimates from developing countries used models that look only at the near field impacts, which may not capture the full impact of a pollution source. This case study demonstrated how the intake fraction of power plant emissions in China can be calculated using a detailed long-range atmospheric dispersion model—CALPUFF. We found that the intake fraction of primary fine particles is roughly on the order of 10−5, while the intake fractions of sulfur dioxide, sulfate and nitrate are on the order of 10−6. These estimates are an order of magnitude higher than the US estimates. We also tested how sensitive the results were to key assumptions within the model. The size distribution of primary particles has a large impact on the intake fraction for primary particles while the background ammonia concentration is an important factor influencing the intake fraction of nitrate. The background ozone concentration has a moderate impact on the intake fraction of sulfate and nitrate. Our analysis shows that this approach is applicable to a developing country and it provides reasonable population exposure estimates.
Yu Zhao, Wei Wei, and Yu Lei. 2013. “An Anthropogenic Emission Inventory of Primary Air Pollutants in China for 2005 and 2010.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 225-261. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

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.

Yu Zhao, Jie Zhang, and Chris P Nielsen. 2014. “The effects of energy paths and emission controls and standards on future trends in China's emissions of primary air pollutants.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 14, Pp. 8849-8868. Publisher's VersionAbstract
To examine the efficacy of China's actions to control atmospheric pollution, three levels of growth of energy consumption and three levels of implementation of emission controls are estimated, generating a total of nine combined activity-emission control scenarios that are then used to estimate trends of national emissions of primary air pollutants through 2030. The emission control strategies are expected to have more effects than the energy paths on the future emission trends for all the concerned pollutants. As recently promulgated national action plans of air pollution prevention and control (NAPAPPC) are implemented, China's anthropogenic pollutant emissions should decline. For example, the emissions of SO2, NOx, total suspended particles (TSP), PM10, and PM2.5 are estimated to decline 7, 20, 41, 34, and 31% from 2010 to 2030, respectively, in the "best guess" scenario that includes national commitment of energy saving policy and implementation of NAPAPPC. Should the issued/proposed emission standards be fully achieved, a less likely scenario, annual emissions would be further reduced, ranging from 17 (for primary PM2.5) to 29% (for NOx) declines in 2015, and the analogue numbers would be 12 and 24% in 2030. The uncertainties of emission projections result mainly from the uncertain operational conditions of swiftly proliferating air pollutant control devices and lack of detailed information about emission control plans by region. The predicted emission trends by sector and chemical species raise concerns about current pollution control strategies: the potential for emissions abatement in key sectors may be declining due to the near saturation of emission control devices use; risks of ecosystem acidification could rise because emissions of alkaline base cations may be declining faster than those of SO2; and radiative forcing could rise because emissions of positive-forcing carbonaceous aerosols may decline more slowly than those of SO2 emissions and thereby concentrations of negative-forcing sulfate particles. Expanded control of emissions of fine particles and carbonaceous aerosols from small industrial and residential sources is recommended, and a more comprehensive emission control strategy targeting a wider range of pollutants (volatile organic compounds, NH3 and CO, etc.) and taking account of more diverse environmental impacts is also urgently needed.
Haikun Wang, Yanxia Zhang, Xi Lu, Chris P Nielsen, and Jun Bi. 2015. “Understanding China's carbon dioxide emissions from both production and consumption perspectives.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 52, Pp. 189-200. Publisher's VersionAbstract

China is now the largest emitter of CO2 in the world, having contributed nearly half of the global increase in carbon emissions between 1980 and 2010. The existing literature on China’s carbon emissions has focused on two dimensions: the amount of CO2 emitted within China’s geographical boundaries (a production-based perspective), and the drivers of, and responsibility for, these emissions (a consumption-based perspective). The current study begins with a comprehensive review of China’s CO2 emissions, and then analyzes their driving forces from both consumption and production perspectives, at both national and provincial levels. It is concluded that China’s aggregate national CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption and cement production maintained high growth rates during 2000-2010. National emissions reached 6.8–7.3 billion tons in 2007, nearly 25% of which were caused by net exports (i.e., exports minus imports) to other countries. However, emission characteristics varied significantly among different regions and provinces, and considerable emission leakage from the developed eastern regions to inland and western areas of the country was found. The objectives of China’s policies should therefore be broadened from continued improvement of energy efficiency to accelerating regional technology transfer and preventing mere relocation of carbon-intensive economic activities from developed coastal regions to less developed, inland provinces. To rapidly and effectively cut down China’s carbon emissions, moreover, its energy supply should be aggressively decarbonized by promoting renewable and low carbon energy sources.

Chris P Nielsen and Mun S Ho. 2013. “Atmospheric Environment in China: Introduction and Research Review.” In Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals, Pp. 3-58. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking U.S.–Chinese inquiry into the effects of recent air pollution controls and prospective carbon taxes on China's economy and environment.

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.

Hongfei Cui, Pan Mao, Yu Zhao, Chris P Nielsen, and Jie Zhang. 2015. “Patterns in atmospheric carbonaceous aerosols in China: Emission estimates and observed concentrations.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 15, Pp. 8657–8678. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

China is experiencing severe carbonaceous aerosol pollution driven mainly by large emissions from intensive use of solid fuels. To gain a better understanding of the levels and trends of carbonaceous aerosol emissions and the resulting ambient concentrations at the national scale, we update an emission inventory of anthropogenic organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC), and employ existing observational studies to analyze characteristics of these aerosols including temporal, spatial, and size distributions, and the levels and contributions of secondary organic carbon (SOC) to total OC. We further use ground observations to test the levels and inter-annual trends of the calculated national and provincial emissions of carbonaceous aerosols, and propose possible improvements in emission estimation for the future. The national OC emissions are estimated to have increased 29% from 2000 (2127 Gg) to 2012 (2749 Gg) and EC by 37% (from 1356 to 1857 Gg). The residential, industrial, and transportation sectors contributed an estimated 76±2%, 19±2% and 5±1% of the total emissions of OC, respectively, and 52±3%, 32±2% and 16±2% of EC. Updated emission factors based on the most recent local field measurements, particularly for biofuel stoves, lead to considerably lower emissions of OC compared to previous inventories. Compiling observational data across the country, higher concentrations of OC and EC are found in northern and inland cities, while larger OC/EC and SOC/OC ratios are found in southern cities, due to the joint effects of primary emissions and meteorology. Higher SOC/OC ratios are estimated at rural and background sites compared to urban ones, attributed to more emissions of OC from biofuel use, more biogenic emissions of volatile organic compound (VOC) precursors to SOC, and/or transport of aged aerosols. For most sites, higher concentrations of OC, EC, and SOC are observed in colder seasons, while SOC/OC is reduced, particularly at regional sites, attributed partly to weaker atmospheric oxidation and SOC formation compared to summer. Enhanced SOC formation from oxidization and anthropogenic activities like biomass combustion is judged to have crucial effects on severe haze events characterized by high particle concentrations. Several observational studies indicate an increasing trend in ambient OC/EC (but not in OC or EC individually) from 2000 to 2010, confirming increased atmospheric oxidation of OC across the country. Combining the results of emission estimation and observations, the improvement over prior emission inventories is indicated by inter-annual comparisons and correlation analysis. It is also indicated, however, that the estimated growth in emissions might be faster than observed growth, and that some sources with high primary OC/EC like burning of biomass are still underestimated. Further studies to determine changing emission factors over time in the residential sector and to compare to other measurements such as satellite observations are thus suggested to improve understanding of the levels and trends of primary carbonaceous aerosol emissions in China.

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