Air pollution

What Have Other Countries Been Doing for Clean Air?

By Ginny Park


According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the US has currently taken steps to reduce emissions from industrial sources and transportation and further aims to address air pollution through voluntary programs. Through the Clean Air Act, different programs set standards for pollutants, lower emissions from transportation and industries, and more recent programs tackle problems including climate change, acid rain, and ozone layer protection.


With air quality being the largest environmental health risk in the UK, actions have been taken to significantly reduce air pollution through reducing emissions from transportation, homes, farming and industries. In 2017, a target was created for clean air zones to be in place by 2020, with areas aiming to encourage drivers to choose electric cars and restrict commercial vehicles. In these zones, electric cars may be given priority over commercial vehicles at traffic lights and parking spaces.

Asia pacific solutions

With 70% of all air pollution deaths coming from the Asia Pacific, the UN environment program aims to work with governments and stakeholders to develop plans and actions that improve air quality. These include the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership which shares tools and solutions to tackle air pollution, the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network established to combat atmospheric pollution and the climate and Clean Air Coalition which aims to improve the government and the private sector in reducing short-lived climate pollutants.


In 2014 at the Communist Party’s annual Congress, it was announced that the main targets to improve air quality would be a reduction in the production of steel and coal-fired electricity. In its place, wind and solar power would be used to help clear up the thick smog that hangs over parts of China like Tangshan and Hebei. This has continued with factories being closed down or relocated in order to reduce the production of steel or for air scrubbers to be installed. In March 2017, it was announced that 103 coal powered plants would be closed or cancelled, cutting steel production by 50 million tons and over 50 gigawatts of power.

Not only that but China has started making small changes for its citizens. Cities are pressing for residents to discontinue using coal stoves and furnaces and to use higher-quality gasoline and diesel to be comparable to European and American standard. Furthermore, data for PM2.5 particles has become more and more transparent as citizens can now check their local air quality in real-time. Some mayors even order temporary closures of factories to clear the air ahead of international summits, even going so far as to stop for several months. As a result, fine-particulate pollution fell by over 25% in 2014 and 2015 but increased once more in 2016 and 2017 as steel production was increased for demand. The hope is, that although there tends to be much space for jobs in the area due to the industries, people hope that the economy will hopefully boost in sectors that don’t produce many pollution-intensive activities.


Through the Government of India’s National Clean Air Programme, a strong emphasis is put on renewable energy, electric vehicles, and a better cooking fuel in order to prevent the air quality from getting any worse. Currently about 122 cities across India have aimed to implement plans to combat air pollution, with the aim of reducing PM10 and PM2.5 by 20-30% by 2024. However, due to the country’s biggest struggle currently seeming to be poor data capturing methods and methodology to create accurate trends, the focus of air quality has been better improved by innovations from citizens, such as with ink being created from pollution, and equipment being used to reduce cooking fuel and solvents used in antibiotics.

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