For breathable air, China must reduce the costs of its growth — Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

From South China Morning Post

The visible effect of pollution in China is undeniable. I recently spent two weeks in Beijing, where I grew up, with my family. For the first seven days, the sun did not shine. A hazy layer of greyish-white smog hung over us. Every morning, I checked the air quality index, which uses guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on my smartphone app and the results were alarming.

Air quality came in at around 300. According to the EPA, levels between 301 and 500 are considered “hazardous”, meaning people should steer clear of all outdoor activity. Essentially, it’s like breathing in the fumes from a forest fire. (For comparison, Boston’s air quality is about 45.)

But, thankfully, it appears that China, the world’s largest producer of atmospheric carbon dioxide – accounting for nearly a quarter of global emissions – is starting to take this issue more seriously. In spring, theFinancial Times reported that China is considering an absolute cap on carbon emissions in advance of the climate talks in Paris in 2015, though officials later stressed they were nowhere near a decision. The cap would be a remarkable policy shift for the country, which for years has resisted international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that they unfairly thwart the economic growth of developing countries.

Read the full post in South China Morning Post

Yasheng Huang is the International Program Professor in Chinese Economy and Business and a Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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