Trade Wars, Environment and Health
In this age of globalization, economies worldwide are tightly connected through trade. Trade and its coupling with atmospheric transport mean large quantities of transboundary carbon dioxide, particulate matter pollution and related premature deaths. However, it remains unclear about the relationship between trade and environment, particularly on how trade development would affect the global environment. Recent escalating trade wars not only affect the global economy, but may also have important consequences on the respective emissions and health impacts, which has not been assessed.
Since 2011, Prof. Jintai Lin from the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, School of Physics, Peking University has worked with domestic and international collaborators to study the problem of globalizing air pollution, transboundary transfer and resulting impacts on air quality, climate and health (Lin JT et al., 2014 PNAS (Cozzarelli Prize Winner); Lin JT et al., 2016 Nature Geoscience; Zhang et al., 2017 Nature). In this latest work, based on current trade wars, Lin and collaborators quantify the impacts of trade restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions and ambient particulate matter (PM2.5) related premature mortality worldwide, through integrating an economic model, emission inventories, an atmospheric model and a pollution-health response model under multiple scenarios of tariff. The study entitled “Carbon and health implications of trade restrictions” is published as an article in Nature Communications.
As shown in Figure, compared with a free trade world, an extremely anti-trade scenario with current tariffs plus an additional 25% tariff on each traded product would reduce the global export volume by 32.5%, gross domestic product (GDP) by 9.0%, and production-related carbon dioxide by 6.3% and PM2.5-related mortality by 4.1%. The respective impacts would be substantial for the United States (57.2%, 8.9%, 8.2% and 7.7%), Western Europe (11.7%, 6.7%, 4.4% and 2.3%) and China (46.0%, 10.9%, 5.4% and 3.3%). The extent of economic, environmental and health impacts on each region depends on its economic structure, emission intensities, atmospheric conditions, population and baseline mortality rate. The change in global total environment is predominantly contributed by those in developing regions with higher emission intensities. Reducing emission intensities in developing regions, aided by sufficient global technological and financial support, could foster better global conditions to allow a more prosperous world and a better environment through economic globalization.
Jintai Lin and his postdoc Mingxi Du and PhD student Lulu Chen are the joint first authors of this paper. Jintai Lin, Prof. Kuishuang Feng from the University of Maryland and Prof. Yu Liu from Chinese Academy of Sciences are the corresponding authors.
(* Corresponding Author; # Joint first author; Group Member of Jintai Lin)
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Jintai Lin #*, Mingxi Du #, Lulu Chen #, Kuishuang Feng *, Yu Liu *, Randall V. Martin, Jingxu Wang, Ruijing Ni, Yu Zhao, Hao Kong, Hongjian Weng, Mengyao Liu, Aaron van Donkelaar, Qiuyu Liu and Klaus Hubacek: Carbon and health implications of trade restrictions, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-12890-3, 2019.