Environment & Climate Change

175 Items

Discussion Paper - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Policy Evolution Under the Clean Air Act

| November 2018

The U.S. Clean Air Act, passed in 1970 with strong bipartisan support, was the first environmental law to give the Federal government a serious regulatory role, established the architecture of the U.S. air pollution control system, and became a model for subsequent environmental laws in the United States and globally. We outline the Act’s key provisions, as well as the main changes Congress has made to it over time. We assess the evolution of air pollution control policy under the Clean Air Act, with particular attention to the types of policy instruments used. We provide a generic assessment of the major types of policy instruments, and we trace and assess the historical evolution of EPA’s policy instrument use, with particular focus on the increased use of market-based policy instruments, beginning in the 1970s and culminating in the 1990s.

a man looks up near smoke spewing from a chimney near the Jiujiang steel and rolling mills in Qianan

AP/Ng Han Guan, File

Journal Article - Nature Sustainability

Air Quality–Carbon–Water Synergies and Trade-offs in China's Natural Gas Industry

    Authors:
  • Yue Qin
  • Lena Höglund-Isaksson
  • Edward Byers
  • Kuishuang Feng
  • Fabian Wagner
  • Denise L. Mauzerall
| Sep. 14, 2018

Both energy production and consumption can simultaneously affect regional air quality, local water stress and the global climate. Identifying the air quality–carbon–water interactions due to both energy sources and end-uses is important for capturing potential co-benefits while avoiding unintended consequences when designing sustainable energy transition pathways. The authors examine the air quality–carbon–water interdependencies of China's six major natural gas sources and three end-use gas-for-coal substitution strategies in 2020.

A satellite view of the Gansu Dunhuang Solar Park, a photovoltaic power station under construction in Gansu Provence, as seen on June 9, 2018.

DigitalGlobe, CNES/Airbus, Google Earth, used with permission

Report - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Harvard-Tsinghua Workshop on Low-Carbon Development and Public Policy

| September 2018

The Belfer Center’s Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Center for Science, Technology, and Education Policy at Tsinghua University held the fifth annual Tsinghua-Harvard Workshop on Low-Carbon Development and Public Policy. This event brought together leading experts on climate and energy from academic, business, and government communities in both the United States and China. This year’s workshop focused on electricity systems and renewable energy penetration.

A Chinese power plant.

Wikimedia CC/Tobixen

Journal Article - Journal of Cleaner Production

Changing Carbon Content of Chinese Coal and Implications for Emissions of CO2

| September 2018

The changing carbon content of coal consumed in China between 2002 and 2012 is quantified using information from the power sector. The carbon content decreased by 7.7% over this interval, the decrease particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2009. Inferences with respect to the changing carbon content of coal and the oxidation rate for its consumption, combined with the recent information on coal use in China, are employed to evaluate the trend in emissions of CO2. Emissions are estimated to have increased by 158% between 2002 and 2012, from 3.9 Gt y-1 to 9.2 Gt y-1.

solar panels are seen near the power grid in northwestern China

AP/Ng Han Guan, File

Journal Article - Environmental Research Letters

Climate, Air Quality and Human Health Benefits of Various Solar Photovoltaic Deployment Scenarios in China in 2030

    Authors:
  • Junnan Yang
  • Xiaoyuan Li
  • Fabian Wagner
  • Denise L. Mauzerall
| 2018

Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation can greatly reduce both air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuel electricity generation. The Chinese government plans to greatly scale up solar PV installation between now and 2030. However, different PV development pathways will influence the range of air quality and climate benefits. Benefits depend on how much electricity generated from PV is integrated into power grids and the type of power plant displaced. Using a coal-intensive power sector projection as the base case, the authors estimate the climate, air quality, and related human health benefits of various 2030 PV deployment scenarios.

visitors tours the BYD Co. booth displaying an electric vehicle with a charger at the Shanghai International Auto Show

AP/Andy Wong

Paper - SAE International

Recycling-Based Reduction of Energy Consumption and Carbon Emission of China's Electric Vehicles: Overview and Policy Analysis

    Authors:
  • Fuquan Zhao
  • Zongwei Liu
  • Han Hao
| Apr. 03, 2018

Electric vehicles maintain the fastest development in China and undertake the responsibility of optimizing energy consumption and carbon emission in the transportation field. However, from the entire life cycle point of view, although electric vehicles have a certain degree of energy consumption and carbon emission reduction in the use phase, they cause extra energy consumption and carbon emission in the manufacturing phase, which weakens the due environmental benefits to some extent. The recycling of electric vehicles can effectively address the issue and indirectly reduce the energy consumption and carbon emission in the manufacturing phase. China is setting up the recycling system and strengthening regulation force to achieve proper energy consumption and carbon emission reduction benefits of electric vehicles.

A woman wears a face mask as she looks at her smartphone while walking along a street in Beijing

AP

Journal Article - Applied Energy

Potential Co-benefits of Electrification for Air Quality, Health, and CO2 Mitigation in 2030 China

    Authors:
  • Junnan Yang
  • Xi Lu
  • Denise L. Mauzerall
| May 15, 2018

Electrification with decarbonized electricity is a central strategy for carbon mitigation. End-use electrification can also reduce air pollutant emissions from the demand sectors, which brings public health co-benefits. In this article, the authors focus on electrification strategies for China, a country committed to both reducing air pollution and peaking carbon emissions before 2030. Considering both coal-intensive and decarbonized power system scenarios for 2030, they assess the air quality, health, and climate co-benefits of various end-use electrification scenarios for the vehicle and residential sectors relative to a non-electrified coal-intensive business-as-usual scenario.