China’s Energy & Environment Challenge

Over the past three decades, China’s remarkable economic growth has raised hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and improved living standards on a scale unrivaled in economic history. This rapid expansion in energy and the dramatic growth it has fueled has transformed the country into one of the world’s most important economic powers. It has also, however, had profound environmental consequences. Chinese citizens breathe some of the world’s most polluted air, leading to serious health problems and shortened lives. China has also become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, making it critical to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

Chinese policymakers have begun implementing an ambitious agenda to address these challenges. Since 2013, China has made incredible progress in its “war on pollution,” with particulate pollution levels dropping by 20 to 40 percent in major cities. Yet, as policymakers continue to work toward additional improvements that produce cleaner air, water, and soil without sacrificing economic growth, it will be crucial to identify the most cost effective and efficient policies available.

EPIC-China’s Approach

EPIC has developed a successful model for addressing the world’s most difficult energy and environmental challenges. At its core, the EPIC model focuses on producing data driven, tested research insights in partnership with local, regional, and national governments. Our process helps ensure that the right questions are being asked, solutions are tested on the ground and rigorously measured, and results can be scaled up into successful policies. EPIC is committed to working with governments in the regions and countries of the world that are at the center of these critical issues, including in China.

“EPIC-China takes the established research and existing partnerships of UChicago faculty to the next level. Alongside our Chinese partners, our aim is to conduct ground-breaking research on how to ensure access to inexpensive and reliable energy while meeting China’s ambitious pollution-reduction goals. This work could bring long-lasting benefits not just to China, but also to the rest of the world.”

Michael Greenstone, Director, EPIC

EPIC Director Michael Greenstone and Professor Zhongbo Hu, on behalf of UCAS President Shushen LI, sign memorandum of understanding to collaborate.

Groundbreaking Partnership

As a part of EPIC’s work in China, the University of Chicago and the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) have formed a groundbreaking collaboration that will support a wide range of research focused on energy and environmental issues and policies. The Joint Center for Energy Policy Research in China aims to generate fresh insights into pressing energy and environmental challenges, offering Chinese policymakers new tools to tackle important priorities, such as cost-effective reductions in environmental pollution.

“Our relationship combines the prominent engineering expertise of UCAS with the University of Chicago’s global leadership in economic analysis. Working together, I believe these two perspectives have the ability to produce new ideas and solutions that might not exist otherwise.”

Shushen LI, UCAS President

The Power of Chicago Economics

The University of Chicago School of Economics has a rich legacy of demonstrating the power of markets and economic insights to solve some of society’s greatest challenges. Through rigorous data-driven analysis and a willingness to venture into areas not previously considered part of the field, University of Chicago economists have produced major advances on a range of issues, including poverty, education, and now, energy and the environment. Thirty scholars associated with the School have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, and eighteen have received the John Bates Clark Medals, awarded to young economists who have made the most important contributions to the field.

The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI) serves as a hub for cutting-edge analysis and research across the entire University of Chicago economics community, uniting researchers from the Booth School of Business, the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the Harris School of Public Policy, and the Law School in an unparalleled effort to uncover new ways of thinking about economics. As part of the broader Chicago Economics community, EPIC is an affiliated center of BFI. Working in close partnership with Chinese researchers and research institutions, BFI-China aims to develop new insights on the critical economic issues facing Chinese policymakers today.

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