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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 9;7(1):14304. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14639-8.

India Is Overtaking China as the World's Largest Emitter of Anthropogenic Sulfur Dioxide.

Author information

1
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA. can.li@nasa.gov.
2
Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA. can.li@nasa.gov.
3
Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, M3H 5T4, Canada.
4
Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, 20771, USA.
5
Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, 49931, USA.
6
Energy Systems Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, 60439, USA.
7
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA.
8
Air Resources Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, College Park, MD, 20740, USA.
9
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 20742, USA.
10
State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology and College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.

Abstract

Severe haze is a major public health concern in China and India. Both countries rely heavily on coal for energy, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted from coal-fired power plants and industry is a major pollutant contributing to their air quality problems. Timely, accurate information on SO2 sources is a required input to air quality models for pollution prediction and mitigation. However, such information has been difficult to obtain for these two countries, as fast-paced changes in economy and environmental regulations have often led to unforeseen emission changes. Here we use satellite observations to show that China and India are on opposite trajectories for sulfurous pollution. Since 2007, emissions in China have declined by 75% while those in India have increased by 50%. With these changes, India is now surpassing China as the world's largest emitter of anthropogenic SO2. This finding, not predicted by emission scenarios, suggests effective SO2 control in China and lack thereof in India. Despite this, haze remains severe in China, indicating the importance of reducing emissions of other pollutants. In India, ~33 million people now live in areas with substantial SO2 pollution. Continued growth in emissions will adversely affect more people and further exacerbate morbidity and mortality.

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