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Example set for collaboration in climate fight

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-01-08 09:31
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The beautiful scenery around the Great Wall in Qianxi county, Tangshan city, North China's Hebei province, is captured on Aug 30, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Experts praise California and China for innovative approaches in green efforts

Addressing climate change and air pollution simultaneously delivers significant public health benefits, a new study has found, and California and China, with their ambitious policies and innovative approaches, offer exemplary models for the world to follow.

California, a pioneer in integrating public health into its air and climate policies, serves as a model for incorporating measurable public health indicators into policy and establishing robust monitoring networks, according to a report by the California-China Climate Institute.

Meanwhile, China has emerged as a front-runner in mitigating both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, simultaneously boasting a comprehensive climate policy framework and a large-scale air quality monitoring system.

"Both jurisdictions provide good examples. Case studies from Los Angeles, Beijing, and Shenzhen shed insights into real-world examples of how cities are considering air quality and climate change in tandem," said Rixin Zhu, co-author of the report and a fellow at California-China Climate Institute.

The report revealed synergies between tackling climate change and improving air quality by analyzing policies and programs implemented in California and China.

For example, Los Angeles successfully combines scientific research with policymaking and integrates public health indicators in its air and climate policies. Beijing and Shenzhen are actively devising public health indicators and further controlling air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by implementing "coordinated control" policies and carbon markets.

For the best practices implemented in California and China, the report highlights Los Angeles for "effective regional and cross-agency coordination" and the inclusion of "explicit public health motivations" as part of air and climate policy actions.

The examples of Beijing and Shenzhen share lessons of coordinated regional action, as well as the "coordinated control" of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, said the researchers.

Sarah Rees, assistant deputy executive officer at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, noted that if green gas emissions can be reduced in Southern California, then the reduced air pollution levels would translate into lower rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The report highlights specific success stories from both regions. Los Angeles' "SmartAirLA165"program utilizes asthma tracking technology to monitor cases throughout the city, aiming to reduce pollution and its subsequent hospitalizations.

Similarly, the China Meteorological Administration boasts a vast monitoring network that not only predicts extreme weather events but also assesses the impact of climate change on weather, air quality, and public health.

Additionally, China is developing a big data platform capable of automatically detecting pollution hot spots and delivering real-time information to enforcement officers, further bolstering its air quality management, according to the report.

Knowledge exchange

Beyond technology, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange between regions is crucial. Researchers emphasized the need for regular exchanges and training programs between California and China to share best practices and lessons learned.

Yifang Zhu, a professor in the environmental health sciences department at the University of California, Los Angeles, underscored the co-benefits of addressing these issues, particularly for vulnerable populations.

She stressed that effective air and climate policies can significantly reduce global mortality and morbidity rates, leading not only to improved health outcomes but also tangible economic gains through reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity.

California's focus on integrating public health into its policies, particularly in disadvantaged communities, has led to more equitable and effective solutions; similarly, China's aggressive pursuit of air pollution and greenhouse gas mitigation is "very commendable", said Zhu.

Looking ahead, prioritizing public health and ensuring equity in climate and air policymaking is essential as both regions undergo unprecedented energy transitions, she said.

Strategically planning infrastructure, like making EV charging stations accessible to all, can guarantee that the benefits of clean energy reach everyone, she added.

"There are tremendous opportunities for California and China to collaborate and share the best practices, technological advancements and policy frameworks to enhance their efforts in improving our ecology and protecting public health," said Zhu.

"By learning from each other's experiences and continuously refining our approach, I think we can cultivate healthier communities and a more resilient population in both countries," she said.

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