Ongoing Integrated Research

Following completion of the second book Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals (Nielsen and Ho, eds., 2013, MIT Press), the interdisciplinary research team has been using the framework to assess the costs and benefits of other emission control approaches China is implementing or considering. These analyses (funded by awards from the Energy Foundation China and, more recently, the Harvard Global Institute) consider policy strategies to reduce local and regional air pollution, specifically:

  • Controls of NOX in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015);
  • Prospective control of ammonia, a precursor to secondary fine particle (PM2.5) pollution.

The research team has more recently returned to assessment of market-based emission control options, based in part on consultations with the Research Institute for Fiscal Science of China's Ministry of Finance. The policy scenarios are designed to achieve China's 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. These scenarios include:

  • Resource taxes recently enacted in China, alone and in combination with  a prospective carbon tax; and
  • A hybrid carbon pricing policy, combining carbon trading in several major industries with a carbon tax on the rest of the economy.

New extensions of the framework include stronger consideration of the fiscal effects of tax-based emission controls, and their role in overall tax reform anticipated in China through 2020. The team has now incorporated a household demand model to allow assessment of the incidence of different tax policies, for instance across different Chinese income classes or across the rural-urban divide.