Role of emission controls in reducing the 2050 climate change penalty for PM2.5 in China

Liu, Song; Xing, Jia; Westervelt, Daniel M.; Liu, Shuchang; Ding, Dian; Fiore, Arlene M.; Kinney, Patrick L.; Zhang, Yuqiang; He, Mike Zhongyu; Sahu, Shovan K.; Zhang, Fenfen; Zhao, Bin; Wang, Shuxiao

Previous studies demonstrated that global warming can lead to deteriorated air quality even when anthropogenic emissions were kept constant, which has been called a climate change penalty on air quality. It is expected that anthropogenic emissions will decrease significantly in the future considering the aggressive emission control actions in China. However, the dependence of climate change penalty on the choice of emission scenario is still uncertain. To fill this gap, we conducted multiple independent model simulations to investigate the response of PM2.5 to future (2050) climate warming (RCP8.5) in China but with different emission scenarios, including the constant 2015 emissions, the 2050 CLE emissions (based on Current Legislation), and the 2050 MTFR emissions (based on Maximum Technically Feasible Reduction). For each set of emissions, we estimate climate change penalty as the difference in PM2.5 between a pair of simulations with either 2015 or 2050 meteorology. Under 2015 emissions, we find a PM2.5 climate change penalty of 1.43 μg m−3 in Eastern China, leading to an additional 35,000 PM2.5-related premature deaths [95% confidence interval (CI), 21,000-40,000] by 2050. However, the PM2.5 climate change penalty weakens to 0.24 μg m−3 with strict anthropogenic emission controls under the 2050 MTFR emissions, which decreases the associated PM2.5-related deaths to 17,000. The smaller MTFR climate change penalty contributes 14% of the total PM2.5 decrease when both emissions and meteorology are changed from 2015 to 2050, and 24% of total health benefits associated with this PM2.5 decrease in Eastern China. This finding suggests that controlling anthropogenic emissions can effectively reduce the climate change penalty on PM2.5 and its associated premature deaths, even though a climate change penalty still occurs even under MTFR. Strengthened controls on anthropogenic emissions are key to attaining air quality targets and protecting human health in the context of future global climate change.

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

Science of The Total Environment

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
June 28, 2023