Air Pollution, Greenhouse Gases & Climate

Jonathan D'Souza, Felix Prasanna, Luna-Nefeli Valayannopoulos-Akrivou, Peter John Sherman, Elise Penn, Shaojie Song, Alexander Archibald, and Michael B McElroy. 2021. “Projected changes in seasonal and extreme summertime temperature and precipitation in India in response to COVID-19 recovery emissions scenarios.” Environmental Research Letters. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Fossil fuel and aerosol emissions have played important roles on climate over the Indian subcontinent over the last century. As the world transitions toward decarbonization in the next few decades, emissions pathways could have major impacts on India's climate and people. Pathways for future emissions are highly uncertain, particularly at present as countries recover from COVID-19. This paper explores a multimodel ensemble of Earth system models leveraging potential global emissions pathways following COVID-19 and the consequences for India's summertime (June-July-August-September) climate in the near- and long-term. We investigate specifically scenarios which envisage a fossil-based recovery, a strong renewable-based recovery and a moderate scenario in between the two. We find that near-term climate changes are dominated by natural climate variability, and thus likely independent of the emissions pathway. By 2050, pathway-induced spatial patterns in the seasonally-aggregated precipitation become clearer with a drying in the fossil-based scenario and wetting in the strong renewable scenario. Additionally, extreme temperature and precipitation events in India are expected to increase in magnitude and frequency regardless of the emissions scenario, though the spatial patterns of these changes as well as the extent of the change are pathway dependent. This study provides an important discussion on the impacts of emissions recover pathways following COVID-19 on India, a nation which is likely to be particularly susceptible to climate change over the coming decades.
Xi Lu, Shi Chen, Chris P. Nielsen, Chongyu Zhang, Jiacong Li, Xu He, Ye Wu, Shuxiao Wang, Feng Song, Chu Wei, Kebin He, Michael P. McElroy, and Jiming Hao. 2021. “Combined solar power and storage as cost-competitive and grid-compatible supply for China’s future carbon-neutral electricity system.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118, October, Pp. 42. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China’s ability to decarbonize its energy system strongly affects the prospect of achieving the 1.5 °C limit in global, average surface-temperature rise. Understanding technically feasible, cost-competitive, and grid-compatible solar photovoltaic (PV) power potentials spatiotemporally is critical for China’s future energy pathway. This study develops an integrated model to evaluate the spatiotemporal evolution of the technology-economic-grid PV potentials in China during 2020 to 2060 under the assumption of continued cost degression in line with the trends of the past decade. The model considers the spatialized technical constraints, up-to-date economic parameters, and dynamic hourly interactions with the power grid. In contrast to the PV production of 0.26 PWh in 2020, results suggest that China’s technical potential will increase from 99.2 PWh in 2020 to 146.1 PWh in 2060 along with technical advances, and the national average power price could decrease from 4.9 to 0.4 US cents/kWh during the same period. About 78.6% (79.7 PWh) of China’s technical potential will realize price parity to coal-fired power in 2021, with price parity achieved nationwide by 2023. The cost advantage of solar PV allows for coupling with storage to generate cost-competitive and grid-compatible electricity. The combined systems potentially could supply 7.2 PWh of grid-compatible electricity in 2060 to meet 43.2% of the country’s electricity demand at a price below 2.5 US cents/kWh. The findings highlight a crucial energy transition point, not only for China but for other countries, at which combined solar power and storage systems become a cheaper alternative to coal-fired electricity and a more grid-compatible option.

Lu et al. is the cover article of this October issue of PNAS
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Shaodan Huang, Shaojie Song, Chris P. Nielsen, Yuqiang Zhang, Jianyin Xiong, Louise B. Weschler, Shaodong Xie, and Jing Li. 2022. “Residential building materials: An important source of ambient formaldehyde in mainland China.” Environment International, 158, January, Pp. 106909. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This study investigates the contribution of formaldehyde from residential building materials to ambient air in mainland China. Based on 265 indoor field tests in 9 provinces, we estimate that indoor residential sources are responsible for 6.66% of the total anthropogenic formaldehyde in China’s ambient air (range for 31 provinces: 1.88–18.79%). Residential building materials rank 6th among 81 anthropogenic sources (range: 2nd–10th for 31 provinces). Emission intensities show large spatial variability between and within regions due to different residential densities, emission characteristics of building materials, and indoor thermal conditions. Our findings indicate that formaldehyde from the indoor environment is a significant source of ambient formaldehyde, especially in urban areas. This study will help to more accurately evaluate exposure to ambient formaldehyde and its related pollutants, and will assist in formulating policies to protect air quality and public health.