Climate law: on black carbon emissions

During the last ACCC Online Research Seminar (12.May 2021), we had a transdisciplinary talk “Mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants: combining climate law and aerosol science” given by Yulia Yamineva and Thomas Kühn from University of Eastern Finland (UEF) teams in climate law and aerosol physics.

Following the discussion after the seminar, Yulia shared her article on regulation of black carbon emissions in China (open access) and a summary below. Yulia welcomes further collaborations to take science-diplomacy efforts further!

Cleaning the air, protecting the climate: Policy, legal and institutional nexus to reduce black carbon emissions in China

The article by Yulia Yamineva (UEF Law School) and Zhe Liu (Policy Research Centre for Environment and Economy, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, PRC) analyses the current policy and legal status of black carbon emissions across the policy domains of air pollution prevention and control, and climate change in China with a view to identifying opportunities for an integrated approach. The article was published in Environmental Science and Policy in 2019 (open access).

There are significant co-benefits to reducing black carbon emissions for air quality, human health and the climate; yet the pollutant has not yet received sufficient policy attention in China. Overall, realizing co-benefits is complicated by the fact that climate and air quality policy goals have been pursued separately from each other. 

The authors suggest three ways to strengthen the policy, legal and institutional nexus of air pollution and climate change to reduce black carbon emissions in China: improving scientific knowledge and the science-policy interface, increasing policy and legal connections between air quality and climate portfolios, and enhancing institutional linkages. For instance, they argue that more interdisciplinary cooperation and improvements to the black carbon inventory as well as a closer science-policy relationship are necessary. From a legal and policy angle, they identify several openings through which to integrate reduction of black carbon emissions into the air pollution prevention and control agenda. Institutionally, the recent government reform brings air quality and climate portfolios under the supervision of the same ministry but their integration is still to be ensured. In addition, vertical linkages between different levels of environmental governance – central, provincial and municipal – need to be addressed.

Yamineva, Y., & Liu, Z., Cleaning the air, protecting the climate: Policy, legal and institutional nexus to reduce black carbon emissions in China, Environmental Science & Policy, 95, 1-10, 2019.

Twitter: @YuliaYamineva