How to regulate exposure to air pollution

Policy brief Cities and Energy

  • Airborne particulates kill millions of people each year. Analysis of global data describing particulate exposure suggests that an important component of exposure is determined by country-level policies. 
  • Statistically, the three best predictors of mean particulate exposure in a country are: Coal consumption, organic fuel consumption/agricultural burning, and urban share of population. 
  • Exposure depends on having pollution and people in the same location. There is wide variation across countries in how sensitive exposure is to emissions. 
  • Reducing emissions will generally involve reductions of economic output. It is important that particulates are regulated with taxes resulting in tax revenue that can be used for other purposes.
  • This policy brief provides an introduction to our model-based evaluation of three broad classes of particulates policies: Taxes on coal, oil, and agricultural burning for 31 countries. This should inform policymakers about the relative importance and cost effectiveness of regulating each class of particulate emissions.