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Environmental Lessons from China: Finding Promising Policies in Unlikely Places



Alongside the major health risks posed by environmental pollution in China are recent achievements on several environmental issues that have affluent Western nations racing to catch up. The country has propelled itself to a position of leadership in clean energy and efficiency, for instance, with important consequences for public health.


We comment on China's challenges and recent accomplishments in addressing environmental problems from domestic pollution to global climate change. We compare China's commitment to clean energy technology with that of other leading nations and discuss key achievements in other areas, including vehicle efficiency standards and transportation policy.


We discuss policy directions that would secure much-needed improvements to environmental quality and health in China, along with actions that could motivate global action on issues of energy conservation and pollution reduction.


A comprehensive regulatory and institutional framework for environmental policy is within reach in China but will require addressing major hurdles such as the lack of an independent monitoring mechanism and the need for greater transparency and enforcement in environmental matters. Meanwhile, China can continue to set important examples by investing in renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

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