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Air quality benefit of China’s mitigation target to peak its emission by 2030

Xi Yang and Fei Teng

Climate Policy, 2018, vol. 18, issue 1, 99-110

Abstract: In 2015, China committed to reducing its emission intensity per unit of gross domestic product by 60–65% from its 2005 rate and to peak its carbon emission by 2030. Problems related to local pollutants and haze are simultaneously worsening in China. This article focuses on the critical topic of co-controlling carbon emission and local air pollutants and evaluates the co-benefit of carbon mitigation in local pollutant reduction by using a partial equilibrium model that links carbon emission and local air pollutants at the technological level. Three conclusions can be drawn from the scenario analysis. First, in the reference scenario, energy consumption and carbon emission continue to increase and air quality is expected to deteriorate in the future. Therefore, current pollutant control measures should be improved. Second, local pollutants will be significantly reduced in the end-of-pipe control scenario, but the reduction will still be inadequate to fulfil the air quality target. Third, emissions of SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 in 2030 will be reduced by 78.85%, 77.56%, and 83.32%, respectively, compared with the 2010 levels in the co-control scenario involving the peaking effort in China. Therefore, the air quality targets can also be achieved when the peaking target is fulfilled. The Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of China to peak its emission by 2030 is consistent with its domestic interest to improve local air quality.POLICY RELEVANCEChina submitted its INDC to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 and has promised to peak its carbon emission by 2030. In recent years, China has also faced severe pressure to address its air pollution problem. Air quality is an important driving force to incentivize more ambitious mitigation measures that can contribute to the simultaneous reduction of carbon emission and air pollutants. Air quality benefit provides a strong justification for the INDC of China and the possibility of early peaking. Moreover, the co-benefit in China can be a reference for other developing countries that are facing the same challenge and can reinforce the initiative of these countries to promote ambitious mitigation actions.

Date: 2018
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