The Solutions to Air Pollution

Standard Page - 2011-06-23
The solutions to air pollution are straightforward and simple but they require government action: quit coal, establish clear, strict air quality standards and introduce effective policy instruments to curb the rapid growth of the number of vehicles on the roads.

The solutions to air pollution are straightforward and simple but they require government action: quit coal, establish clear, strict air quality standards and introduce effective policy instruments to curb the rapid growth of the number of vehicles on the roads.

28 July 2009 Action at Coal Power Plant in Beijing

Greenpeace volunteers display a big banner in front of a coal fired power plant in western Beijing. The power plant is representative of any number of China's polluting power stations and their heavy reliance on coal that is hindering the country's efforts to tackle climate change and air pollution.

Air pollution is a severe problem, costing China billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and health expenses.

The most basic solution for air pollution is to end its root causes: quit coal and move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with clean, renewable energy.

In the short-term, there are many intermediate solutions for air pollution. However, all of these solutions require governments to recognize the impact of air pollution on public health and the economy, and take action immediately.

  • Make complete air quality information easily available to the public.
  • Tighten the controls for power plant emissions to reduce emissions.
  • Introducing cleaner fuel standards and switching to electric vehicles.
  • Restrict the construction of power plants and other energy-intensive industries near residential areas.
  • Improve urban planning to increase green spaces.
  • Take air quality into consideration when conducting environmental assessments for major projects; for example, flyovers and highways should be far away from residential areas.

Our reports "Dangerous Breathing" and "Ranking Eastern Chinese cities by their 'clean air' actions" also include more detailed recommendations for policy changes in China, such as:

  • Establish legally binding and regional coordinated plans to reach national air quality standards that include clear timelines.
  • Cap regional coal consumption.
  • Hike up pollution discharging charges and strengthen supervision efforts.
  • De-NOx retrofit for existing coal-fired power plants.
  • Shutdown inefficient coal-fired industrial boilers.

And for more detailed information on solutions for one of China's most heavily air polluted areas, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, read our report: "Tracing back the smog".