- Joint Program Report
Improving air quality across mainland China is an urgent policy challenge. While much of the problem is linked to China’s broader reliance on coal and other fossil fuels across the energy system, road transportation is an important and growing source of air pollution. Here we use an energy-economic model, embedded in the broader Regional Emissions Air Quality Climate and Health (REACH) modeling framework, to analyze the impacts of implementing vehicle emissions together with a broader economy-wide climate policy on total air pollution and its spatial distribution. We find that full and immediate implementation of existing vehicle emissions standards at China 3/III level or tighter will significantly reduce the contribution of transportation to degraded air quality by 2030. We further show that transportation emissions standards function as an important complement to an economy-wide price on CO2, which delivers significant co-benefits for air pollution reduction that are concentrated primarily in non-transportation sectors. Going forward, vehicle emissions standards and an economy-wide carbon price form a highly effective coordinated policy package that supports China’s air quality and climate change mitigation goals.