Essays on the effectiveness of air pollution control policies in China

Liu, Bowen (2022). Essays on the effectiveness of air pollution control policies in China. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Air pollution has become an increasingly major concern across the world and is considered by many to be the single largest environmental risk that humans face today. China’s rapid economic development in recent decades was accompanied by a serious deterioration in air quality. In response to the quality of the air and its potentially damaging health impacts, the Chinese government has employed a range of different strategies and policies to mitigate air pollution problems. As a result, it is of great interest and importance to policymakers and the general public to understand the efficacy of such policies.
The primary objective of this thesis is to investigate the effect of selected Chinese government policies on air quality. The thesis contributes to the environmental economics literature by employing a set of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research methods from economics, atmospheric science, and computer science. By combining methods from different disciplines we are able to obtain results that are grounded in both science and social science so we are able to contribute to the literature across each of these disciplines. This thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction, chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 present the main body of the thesis and can be considered as four independent papers. Finally, chapter 6 concludes.
Chapter 2 investigates the effectiveness of China’s Environmental Protection Inspection program that started in 2016 and ran through to 2017, a policy unparalleled in terms of its authority, scope and stringency. Chapter 3 quantifies the impact of the Wuhan Covid-19 lockdown on concentrations of four air pollutants using a two-step approach. Chapter 4 returns to the recent Central Environmental Inspection Policy (CEIP) and examine how effective it was in reducing local air pollution at the regional and city level. Methodologically, we combine weather normalisation techniques (a random forest-based machine learning model) from atmospheric sciences and the Augmented synthetic control method (ASCM) to provide a causal estimate of the impact of a province having a CEIP inspection on local air quality. Chapter 5 estimates the impact of the winter heating policy and the effectiveness of the clean winter heating plan on air quality in Chinese capital cities. After decoupling the impact of meteorological conditions on observed air pollutant concentrations, this chapter finds that, during the winter period in 2015 and 2016, the turning on of the winter heating system immediately increase the air pollution level across northern Chinese cities while the turning off of the winter heating system led to the sudden drop of air pollution.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School, Department of Economics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics


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