Abstract: Clean air policies in China have substantially reduced particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution in recent years, primarily by curbing end-of-pipe emissions. However, reaching the level of the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines may instead depend upon the air quality co-benefits of ambitious climate action. Here, we assess pathways of Chinese PM2.5 air quality from 2015 to 2060 under a combination of scenarios that link global and Chinese climate mitigation pathways (i.e. global 2°C- and 1.5°C-pathways, National Determined Contributions (NDC) pledges and carbon neutrality goals) to local clean air policies. We find that China can achieve both its near-term climate goals (peak emissions) and PM2.5 air quality annual standard (35 μg/m3) by 2030 by fulfilling its NDC pledges and continuing air pollution control policies. However, the benefits of end-of-pipe control reductions are mostly exhausted by 2030, and reducing PM2.5 exposure of the majority of the Chinese population to below 10 μg/m3 by 2060 will likely require more ambitious climate mitigation efforts such as China's carbon neutrality goals and global 1.5°C-pathways. Our results thus highlight that China's carbon neutrality goals will play a critical role in reducing air pollution exposure to the level of the WHO guidelines and protecting public health.
Pathways of China's PM2.5 air quality 2015–2060 in the context of carbon neutralityBack to All Publications
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