Comparative advantage strategy for rapid pollution mitigation in China

Yuan Xu
Environmental Science & Technology 2013 September 3, 47 (17): 9596-603
Due to its sheer size and growth trend, no other country is facing more daunting challenges than China in reducing its pollutant emissions. A critical but inadequately addressed question is how rapidly China could feasibly achieve such mitigation. The stake is high not only about how much worse China's environmental quality could become but also about how the world can prevent catastrophic climate change. Through examining sulfur dioxide (SO2) mitigation in coal-fired power plants and wind energy development for carbon dioxide (CO2) mitigation, this article proposes a comparative advantage strategy for overcoming high barriers to fast pollution mitigation. On the demand side, China could first make progress in the deployment of more pollution control facilities and then improve their operational performance. The resulting low technological market entry barriers could help to build enough industrial capacity to meet the huge demand with prices under control. The strategy in the current practice could be improved to establish not only a large supply industry but also a strong one to enable other countries to move more rapidly in pollution mitigation.

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