Blue Skies Ahead: International Collaboration for Clean Air

Exploring the possible solutions for air pollution in China and India, Tonny Xie, Executive Director of the Clean Air Alliance of China, discussed the co-benefits to climate change in solving air quality issues, the role of technological innovation, and how international collaboration can help address this challenge. He was joined by Anup Bandivadekar, Passenger Vehicles Program & India Lead at the International Council on Clean Transportation, and Ken Alex, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

“The Indian bureaucracy is currently juggling multiple priorities; not just local air pollution and climate change, but also poverty alleviation and electrification along with high growth rates,” Bandivadekar noted, in highlighting India’s conflicting challenges during the panel event held at the Asia Society Northern California on June 23, 2016. The discussion was moderated by Jeffrey Ball of Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. “What we will see is a dynamic between balancing priorities with international pressures,” added Bandivadekar.

Beyond this conflict lies an institutional weakness, whereby “India lacks a comprehensive air quality management system that is built up from a local, state and national level,” emphasized Bandivadekar.

“Air quality is driving the climate change efforts in China,” Tonny Xie highlighted in elaborating on the side effects of China’s increasingly stringent air pollution standards. “Everybody wants cleaner air. As a result, many heavy polluting industries cannot survive anymore because of air quality requirements, which are forcing industries to innovate and become cleaner.” According to Xie, while air pollution is a very real concern in China, not enough view climate change as a serious problem.

“The United States needs to work at the state and federal level, to show that places like California have shifted away from non-renewables,” argued Ken Alex, in looking to the United States for help. According to Alex, help for China and India can be found in the technological innovations of Silicon Valley.

The event was held in conjunction with The Asia Society’s U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Air Technologies and Policies project. Funded by the Energy Foundation, the project is a dynamic new initiative to facilitate best practices and target clean air technology and solution exchange between the U.S. and China to contribute to better air quality locally and internationally.

You can view the complete footage below (1 hr., 25 mins.)