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Surviving success : policy reform and the future of industrial pollution in China

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Author Info

  • Dasgupta, Susmita
  • Hua Wang
  • Wheeler, David

Abstract

China's recent industrial growth, a remarkable success story, has been clouded by hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and incidents of serious respiratory illness caused by exposure to industrial air pollution. Seriously contaminated by industrial discharges, many of China's waterways are largely unfit for direct human use. This damage could be substantially reduced at modest cost. Industrial reform combined with stricter environmental regulation has reduced organic water pollution in many areas and has curbed the growth of air pollution. But much higher levels of emissions controls (of particulates and sulfur dioxide) are warranted in China's polluted cities. For the cost-benefit analysis that led to this conclusion, the authors developed threescenarios projecting pollution damage under varying assumptions about future policies. Their findings are: Even if regulation is not tightened further, continued economic reform should have a powerful effect on pollution intensity. Organic water pollution will stabilize in many areas and actually decline in some. Air pollution will continue growing in most areas but at a much slower pace than industrial output. The cost of inaction would be high--most of China's waterways will remain heavily polluted, and many thousands of people will die or suffer serious respiratory damage. Continuing current trends in tightened regulation for water pollution will lead to sharp improvements; adopting an economically feasible policy of much stricter regulation will restore the health of many waterways. The stakes are even higher for air pollution because regulatory enforcement has weakened in many areas in the past five years. Reversing that trend will save many lives at extremely modest cost. China's National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) has recommended a tenfold increase in the air pollution levy; adopting NEPA's very conservative recommendation would produce a major turnaround in most cities. For representative Chinese cities, a fiftyfold increase in the levy is probably warranted economically. To be cost-effective, heavy sources of particulate and sulfur dioxide emissions should be targeted for abatement. Reducing emissions from large private plants is so cheap that only significant abatement makes sense -- at least 70 percent abatement of sulfur dioxide particulates and even greater abatement of particulates in large urban industrial facilities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1856.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1856

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Keywords: Public Health Promotion; Water and Industry; Environmental Economics&Policies; Pollution Management&Control; Sanitation and Sewerage; Water and Industry; Environmental Economics&Policies; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Pollution Management&Control; TF030632-DANISH CTF - FY05 (DAC PART COUNTRIES GNP PER CAPITA BELOW USD 2; 500/AL;

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Cited by:
  1. L. Alan Winters & Shahid Yusuf, 2007. "Dancing with the Giants: China, India, and the Global Economy," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6632, October.
  2. Shalizi, Zmarak, 2007. "Energy and emissions : local and global effects of the rise of China and India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4209, The World Bank.
  3. Zeng, Ka & Eastin, Joshua, 2012. "Do Developing Countries Invest Up? The Environmental Effects of Foreign Direct Investment from Less-Developed Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2221-2233.
  4. Talukdar, Debabrata & Meisner, Craig M., 2001. "Does the Private Sector Help or Hurt the Environment? Evidence from Carbon Dioxide Pollution in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 827-840, May.
  5. Arazmuradov, Annageldy, 2011. "Energy consumption and carbon dioxide environmental efficiency for former Soviet Union economies. evidence from DEA window analysis," MPRA Paper 36903, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Feb 2012.
  6. Blackman, Allen & Harrington, Winston, 1999. "The Use of Economic Incentives in Developing Countries: Lessons from International Experience with Industrial Air Pollution," Discussion Papers dp-99-39, Resources For the Future.
  7. Nagase, Yoko & Silva, Emilson C.D., 2007. "Acid rain in China and Japan: A game-theoretic analysis," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 100-120, January.
  8. Auty, Richard M., 2003. "Natural Resources, Development Models and Sustainable Development," Discussion Papers 24136, International Institute for Environment and Development, Environmental Economics Programme.
  9. Susmita Dasgupta & Benoit Laplante & Hua Wang & David Wheeler, 2002. "Confronting the Environmental Kuznets Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 147-168, Winter.
  10. Wheeler, David, 2001. "Racing to the bottom : foreign investment and air pollution in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2524, The World Bank.
  11. Hua Wang & Wheeler, David, 2000. "Endogenous enforcement and effectiveness of China's pollution levy system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2336, The World Bank.
  12. Wang, Hua & Jin, Yanhong H., 2002. "Ownership And Industrial Pollution Control: Evidence From China," 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19671, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  13. Ralph A. Luken, 2006. "Where is developing country industry in sustainable development planning?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 46-61.
  14. Dasgupta, Susmita & Laplante, Benoit & Mamingi, Nlandu & Wang, Hua, 2001. "Inspections, pollution prices, and environmental performance: evidence from China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 487-498, March.
  15. Dasgupta, Susmita & Laplante, Benoit & Namingi, Nlandu & Hua Wang, 2000. "Industrial environmental performance in China - the impact of inspections," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2285, The World Bank.
  16. Hua Wang & Jun Bi & Wheeler, David & Jinnan Wang & Dong Cao & Genfa Lu & Yuan Wang, 2002. "Environmental performance rating and disclosure - China's green-watch program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2889, The World Bank.

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