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Co-benefits between Air Quality and Climate Policies in Guangdong and Shandong Provinces in China

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The benefits of tackling carbon neutrality and air quality together

New analysis develops provincial-level strategies and policies to deliver emissions reductions and improve air quality in two Chinese provinces

Meet the CGS experts!

Jenna Behrendt, Research Manager

Andy Miller, Research Associate

Ryna Cui, Research Director

Nate Hultman, Director

Wenli Li, Research Assistant

Haiwen Zhang, Research Assistant

Press Release: More from our experts!


Yu S., J. Behrendt, A. Miller, Y. Liu, J. Adams, R. Cui, W. Li, H. Zhang, J. Cheng, D. Tong, J. Song, Q. Zhang, N. Hultman. 2023. “Co-benefits between Air Quality and Climate Policies in Guangdong and Shandong Provinces in China.” Center for Global Sustainability, University of Maryland & Tsinghua University.

  • Significant emissions reductions are needed across all provinces and all sectors to achieve China’s carbon neutrality goal.
  • Individual provinces may take different pathways to achieve deep decarbonization driven by variations in the underlying economic and energy structures and available resources.
  • Shandong’s transition focuses largely on reducing emissions from the power and industry sectors as well as in space heating.
  • Guangdong’s transition requires significant reductions in the transportation and buildings sectors, amid near-term growth in demand, especially in urban areas.
  • Climate change mitigation is not only helpful but also necessary to achieve sustained PM2.5 concentration reduction in both Guangdong and Shandong; as end-of-pipe controls have larger impacts in the near term, combining both policy objectives can maximize the reduction potentials in local air pollution emissions.
  • Without climate mitigation and energy transition efforts, neither of the provinces can achieve the most stringent WHO PM2.5 concentration standards by 2050. Even with the best end-of-pipe control technologies and practices, PM2.5 concentration in Guangdong exceeds Phase V and in Shandong is much higher than Phase IV WHO standards.
  • Almost 300,000 PM2.5 related deaths can be avoided in 2050 compared to current policies without enhanced air quality policies by implementing energy transition and end of pipe controls in both provinces.
  • Availability of different decarbonization technologies can impact health outcomes; for example, PM2.5 related premature deaths are further reduced in 2050 without carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) deployment in the net-zero transition.
  • Specific climate mitigation measures can deliver large air quality and health benefits and can be prioritized for near-term action, such as phasing out solid fuels in rural residential buildings and targeting super polluting facilities in industry and power sectors.

The Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland and the Department of Earth System Science at Tsinghua University's new analysis developed provincial decarbonization pathways to achieve China’s carbon neutrality before 2060 using a global integrated assessment model with provincial details of China (GCAM-China), and conducts a deep dive analysis of local air quality improvement in two provinces - Guangdong and Shandong - by coupling GCAM-China with an air pollutant emissions model.

In accordance with the previous report, this analysis varied the use of end-of-pipe control policies, climate ambition, and CCUS technology to evaluate the impact of different policy pathways on air pollutant emissions reduction. The results found that both end-of-pipe control and climate mitigation are needed to achieve WHO PM2.5 concentration targets in both Guangdong and Shandong. 

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