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An analysis of the driving forces behind pollutant emission reduction in Chinese industry

Yao, Liang, Liu, Jingru, Zhou, Tao, Wang, Rusong
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.112 pp. 1395-1400
chemical oxygen demand, databases, economic development, economic structure, emissions, engineering, environmental management, industry, pollutants, statistics, sulfur dioxide, surveys, China
The rapid economic development of China has been accompanied by the emission of a great number of pollutants, which in turn have caused severe environmental problems. To strengthen environmental management and to establish a pollution source information database covering all key pollution sources and activities, China carried out its first National Census of Pollution Sources (NCPS) in 2007. The survey contents include the basic environmental situation in 2007, the generation levels of the main pollutants at that time, and the amount of pollution actually discharged into the environment after end-of-pipe treatment at all kinds of pollution sources. Based on the first NCPS report for China released in 2011, and taking two typical industry pollutants, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) as examples, we first revised the historical data concerning environmental statistics based on the NCPS documents. Subsequently, we analyzed the overall industrial scale in the change of SO2 and COD emissions using index decomposition analysis, and then studied the contributions and comparative significance of the “three pollution emission reduction measures” put forward by the Chinese government. The latter are: Engineering Emission Reduction (EER), Structure Emission Reduction (SrER) and Supervision Emission Reduction (SuER). From these analyses, we were able to identify the main driving forces for SO2 and COD emission reduction in China's industrial system. The results indicate that, with continually increasing pollution pressure caused by rapid economic development, EER and SuER have made the greatest contributions to reducing SO2 and COD emissions; but SrER has not had an obvious effect. In the future, EER and SuER will gradually have less and less potential and become more challenging, while SrER should be achievable through adjusting the economic structure.