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Air Pollution in China: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

FORHEAD has published the "Air Pollution in China: An Interdisciplinary Perspective"

This report seeks to initiate a more integrated analysis of what we know about these challenges, drawing on research from across the natural, medical and social science disciplines. It is based on the work of the FORHEAD Working Group on Air Pollution and Regional Development over the last two years. The first section of the report discusses what we know from natural and medical science about the nature and severity of air pollution in China and its health effects. It explains the strengths and weaknesses of different data sources and models; and considers the implications of the limited and uncertain nature of our knowledge for policy. The second part of the report focuses on governance. It details air pollution prevention and control policies and discusses their effectiveness and ongoing challenges. 


While it cannot offer detailed reviews of all the pertinent literatures, the report aims to provide a broad summary of the state of our knowledge and identify areas where an interdisciplinary approach is needed to provide a better evidence base for policy. It includes a discussion of the challenges of air pollution generally and some comparison across regions and cities, but we focus on the specific example of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region.1 The area has some of the worst pollution in China and has recently been the target of the most stringent pollution control measures in the country. At the same time, BTH suffers from an unbalanced industrial structure and severe intra-regional inequality. It is therefore a good case through which to illuminate the multi-dimensional challenges of air pollution control.


In the interests of space, and because different readers will have different backgrounds and concerns, this document provides a summary of our analysis, with references out to longer treatments of specific issues by members of the working group and other researchers. Where possible, we have drawn on review papers and readers should consult these for additional sources. For a list of working group members and their role in the project, see Appendix 1 of the Report.

To read the full version in English, please click here.