Less than a decade ago, not only was air pollution a recognized problem in China, but many didn’t trust the data being reported by local officials. The central government knew it needed to improve air quality, but that it would be impossible without knowing true pollution levels. The challenge was that local officials often prioritized economic growth and so had strong incentives to manipulate air pollution concentrations before reporting them to the central government.

On the heels of declaring a “war on pollution,” the government installed an automatic pollution monitoring system throughout the country that collects pollution data from local stations, releases the data in real-time to the public, and—critically—is very difficult with which to tamper. The move was one of a collection of measures the government took to reduce particulate pollution, which is now down 43% from before the war against pollution was declared.

Results from the new study show that the increased transparency and improved data quality rooted out manipulation and led people to better protect themselves.

Greenstone and He co-authored the study with Ruixue Jia from the University of California San Diego and Tong Liu from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Continue Reading at Green Car Congress

Areas of Focus: Environment
Definition
Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.
Air Pollution
Definition
Air Pollution
Air pollution from fossil fuel combustion poses a grave threat to human health worldwide. EPIC research is using real-world data to calculate the effects of air pollution on human health...
Environmental Health
Definition
Environmental Health
Energy and industrial processes introduce toxins into the environment. EPIC research is helping to educate policymakers and consumers on the social and economic costs of this pollution, and the potential...
EPIC-China
Definition
EPIC-China
China is indisputably critical to addressing the global energy challenge. China is one of the world’s biggest economies, its top carbon emitter, and among its most polluted countries. Yet, China...