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China's air pollution policies: Progress and challenges

Pu Wang
Current opinion in environmental science & health 2021 v.19 pp. 100227
accountability, air pollution, air quality, governance, issues and policy, China
Ambient air pollution has become a significant environmental challenge in China and has induced serious health and socioeconomic consequences. The author conducted a literature review on the latest progress in China's air pollution policy making, in terms of national strategies, sectoral policies, and changes in overall governance approaches. Like the governance in other fields, traditional air quality governance in China features a combination of top-down planning and vertical accountability. But in the recent years when air quality deteriorated to a critical level and the conventional approaches became insufficient, draconian special action plans were made to significantly reduce extreme pollution incidents. On the other hand, China is also piloting more diverse governance approaches, including more flexible market-based policies and more bottom-up policies. Through these approaches, China's air pollution policies have been effective in cutting pollutants emissions, though there are remaining long-term challenges in nationwide attainment of air quality standards.