Special Issue on Better Air Quality in Asia (III)

Kelsey R. Bilsback This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Jill Baumgartner2,3, Michael Cheeseman1, Bonne Ford1, John K. Kodros4, Xiaoying Li5, Emily Ramnarine1, Shu Tao6, Yuanxun Zhang7,8, Ellison Carter5, Jeffrey R. Pierce1

1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
2 Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4 Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences, ICE/FORTH, Patras, Greece
5 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
6 Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Sino-French Institute for Earth System Science, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China
7 College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
8 CAS Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, China


Received: November 6, 2019
Revised: July 2, 2020
Accepted: August 26, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.11.0565  

Cite this article:

Bilsback, K.R., Baumgartner, J., Cheeseman, M., Ford, B., Kodros, J.K., Li, X., Ramnarine, E., Tao, S., Zhang, Y., Carter, E. and Pierce, J.R. (2020). Estimated Aerosol Health and Radiative Effects of the Residential Coal Ban in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region of China. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2332–2346. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.11.0565


  • We evaluated the aerosol-related effects of the Beijing coal-to-electricity policy.
  • Reduced PM2.5 levels may avoid 1,000s–10,000s deaths annually in China.
  • Removing aerosol emissions from residential coal may have a climate warming tendency.


Particle-phase air pollution is a leading risk factor for premature death globally and impacts climate by scattering or absorbing radiation and changing cloud properties. Within the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region of China, where there are severe air quality problems, several municipalities have begun implementing a coal-to-electricity program that bans residential coal and provides subsidies for electricity and electric-powered heat pumps. We used GEOS-Chem to evaluate two complete residential coal-to-electricity transitions—a Beijing-off scenario and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-off scenario—each relative to a base case. We estimate that within China, the ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) reductions in the Beijing-off scenario could lead to 1,900 (95% CI: 1,200–2,700) premature deaths avoided annually, while the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-off scenario could lead to 13,700 (95% CI: 8,900–19,600) premature deaths avoided annually. Additionally, we estimate that the residential-coal-ban scenarios will result in a positive top-of-the-atmosphere aerosol direct radiative effect (DRE) (model domain average: Beijing-off: 0.023 W m–2; Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-off: 0.30 W m–2) and a negligible cloud-albedo aerosol indirect effect (AIE) (Beijing-off: 0.0001 W m–2; Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-off: 0.0027 W m–2). To evaluate the uncertainty of the radiative effects, we calculated the DRE under four black-carbon mixing-state assumptions and both the DRE and AIE assuming three different black-carbon-to-organic-aerosol (BC:OA) ratios for residential-coal emissions. Although the magnitude of our radiative forcing estimates varied across sensitivity cases, the domain average remained positive. When only considering the aerosol-related effects of the aforementioned coal-ban scenarios, we predict substantial health benefits, but do not anticipate a climate “co-benefit”, because removing aerosol emissions leads to a warming tendency. However, if the coal-to-electricity program results in less net greenhouse gas emissions due to the replacement heaters, the policy may be able to achieve health and climate “co-benefits”.

Keywords: Air pollution; Radiative forcing; PM2.5-related mortality; Residential emissions.

Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20 :2332 -2346 . https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.11.0565  

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