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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

20 - A Comparative Study of Air Pollution Trends in Historical London and Contemporary Beijing

from Part III - Multidisciplinary Cases


In this chapter, the air pollution trends in historical London (1950 – 66) and contemporary Beijing (2000 – 16) are compared. In both cases, coal is the main source of air pollution, due to coal-fired electricity generation and coal-burning activities that provide heating. In London, the Clean Air Act of 1956 marked a successful milestone in the history of air pollution abatement in the UK. In Beijing, various policies have been introduced but air qualities in China have not been improved substantially. By examining the effectiveness of respective pollution control regulations/policies in a broader socioeconomic context, policy implications on respective jurisdictions are drawn. For effective implementation of air pollution control policies at the local level, it would be good for China to move beyond simply introducing stringent policies and regulations at the central or the provincial level. More resources can be re-directed to resolving the competing interests of stakeholders across different levels of jurisdictions.