The Grapevine

China Can Be Climate Hero In Asia By Cutting Its Pollution

China could save up to 330,000 lives and help its neighboring countries in Asia fight the effects of climate change in the future. That is the prediction of a new study that analyzed the impact of reducing the country’s ozone pollution today. 

Researchers from the Columbia University said that China currently faces air pollution as a major problem. In 2015, ozone pollution was linked to 67,000 premature deaths across the country. 

The presence of ozone in the air contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and respiratory problems, the researchers said. Ozone pollution occurs because of pollutants from vehicles, power plants, factories and other man-made sources.

“It's a very serious health risk,” Daniel Westervelt, lead study author and an associate research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said in a statement. “So it's important to think about what changes can be made to make progress on this problem.”

The study, published today in Environmental Research Letters, warns that the air pollution in China may become worse in the future. However, the country can still prevent the effects of ozone on environment. 

Using simulated emissions scenarios in China, the researchers found that climate change can increase ozone pollution by 11 percent. That increase may cause 62,000 premature deaths by 2050.

The increased presence of air pollutants may make the situation worse. Models show that climate change and other pollutants can cause additional 80,000 premature deaths over the next decades. 

However, if China decides to launch efforts to reduce emissions that contribute to ozone by 60 percent, the country could prevent 30,000 premature deaths by 2050.

“The issues of climate change and air quality go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense to tackle both things simultaneously,” Westervelt said. “I would hope that policymakers in China will take results like this and see that if you were to aggressively reduce emissions, you would reap the benefits in a pretty significant way.” 

The researchers also suggested that China’s efforts to address air pollution can also affect other countries, including India, across Asia. Neighboring nations may see less emissions and be encouraged to launch their own anti-pollution campaigns, the team said. 

Future efforts may include increasing fuel efficiency standards, use of more electric vehicles and focus on cleaner sources of energy, such as natural gas and renewables. 

China The presence of ozone in the air contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and respiratory problems, according to a study. Pixabay