Progess and lessons learned: 20 years of fighing air pollution in Beijing

14 September, 2018
San Francisco, United States


Four Seasons Hotel

Green is Gold, and clean air is health and wealth. There is increasing awareness of the multiple benefits from reducing air pollution. Efforts to improve air quality improves health, supports sustainable development, and protects the climate. Cities are at the forefront of these efforts and are critically important in the development and implementation of clean air actions.

In 1998 Beijing began an intensified air pollution control program, and over the last 20 years the city has implemented a series of measures including energy infrastructure optimization, coal-fired pollution control, and vehicle emission controls. Air quality improved in a sustainable way alongside rapid economic development and city expansion. From these efforts new experiences and lessons were learned.

The Global Climate Action Summit provides an opportunity to review how a city like Beijing has built an air quality management system that guarantees sustainable and effective development and implementation of air pollution control programs, how scientific research and new technology helps support policy making, and the effectiveness of the program.

This side event will discuss:

  • A soon-to-be released report by Tsinghua University and international experts on the evolution of pollution interventions and future measures to tackle air pollution more effectively.
  • How lessons from Beijing’s experience can be shared with cities around the world facing similar air pollution issues.
  • Recommendations on how to integrate traditional air pollution control and climate change mitigation for the city to consider in its next air quality strategy.

The event will bring together partners who have worked with Beijing.

UN Environment has long cooperated with Beijing, a relationship that started with an assessment of Beijing’s performance of its Green Olympics commitment during the preparation and hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games. UN Environment has since kept close track on Beijing’s air pollution control process and progress.

California has built a close relationship and long cooperation with Beijing on air pollution control since the beginning of this century. The cooperation extends to climate change, scientific innovation, and other areas.

The international organizations, Energy Foundation China, ICCT, ICLEI have been involved in the program with Beijing over the past decade, and have witnessed the changes happened over that time.


  • Opening Remarks: Mr. SUN Zhen, Deputy Director General, Department of Climate Change of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China (5 minutes)
  • The Future of Pollution Control and Climate Change by Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat (8 minutes)
  • Air Quality Goals and Strategy by FANG Li, Director General, Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau (8  minutes)
  • Assessment of 20 years of Air Pollution Control in Beijing by HE Kebin Dean and Professor, School of Environment, Academician, Chinese Academy of Engineering, Tsinghua University, China (10 minutes)
  • California’s Air Quality and Climate Change Strategy by Matthew Rodriquez, secretary of CAL EPA / Mary Nichols, Chair of CARB (8 minutes)
  • Sensor based environmental big data capture and support in decision making on air pollution control by Liu Baoxian, Deputy Director of Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (8 minutes)
  • How Beijing Can Move Towards Zero Emissions by Gong Huiming, Program Director of Transportation, Energy Foundation China (8 minutes)
  • ICCT and China: Vehicle Emission Control by HE Hui, Senior Researcher and China Regional Lead of ICCT (5 minutes)
  • Session moderator: Catherine Witherspoon, independent consultant, former Executive Officer of CARB

Panel discussion: Recommendations for Beijing’s Next Step, Co-Control of Air Pollutant and Greenhouse Gas Emissions  – 15 minutes

  • Climate & Clean Air Coalition, Ms. Helena Molin Valdés
  • Beijing EPB, Mr. Fang Li
  • Cal-EPA/CARB, Mr. Matt Rodriquez/Ms. Mary Nichols (TBD)
  • Tsinghua University, Prof. He Kebin
  • Energy Foundation China, Mr. Zou Ji
  • Mayor of the Federal City of Bonn and President of ICLEI, Mr. Ashok Sridharan

MOU Signing Ceremony: Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau and Energy Foundation China

This event is co-organised by:

  • UN Environment
  • Beijing Municipal Environment Protection Bureau
  • California Air Resource Board
  • Tsinghua University
  • Energy Foundation China
  • International Council for Clean Transportation
  • ICLEI –Local Governments for Sustainability

Event contact

Valentin Foltescu,
Senior Programme and Science Officer
secretariat [at]
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