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Current status of the environmental resource and the threats

Discuss about the Environmental Economic Appraisal Of The Regulatory And Policy Framework Surrounding Air Quality Management In Beijing.

One of the basic needs of any forms of life on earth is oxygen that is available in the air. However, the air pollution is very common for most of the cities of the world. This can be due to many of the reasons such as an increase in the population of the world, industrialization and many more. However, this is not the main focus of this study; rather, this study sheds light on management mechanisms that govern the air quality in Beijing. The air quality is measured using the Air Quality Index (AQI) which measures the particulate matter in the air.  In the year 2013, the particulate matter in the air of the city rose to 370 leading to a death of 2563 people (Xu et al. 2016). After that, there have been more a number of cases that resulted in the death of the citizens. Not only the deteriorating air quality is bad for the environment and the lives of the people, it also drains the money of the local authority as well. In addition to that, the beauty of the city or the natural value deteriorates over time due to the increasing pollution in the air. 

The current state of the air quality of the city is stable upon the serious and regular action taken by the authority of the city. However, Zhang et al. (2016) noted that there is no improvement in the air quality over the years, rather the intent of the government is limited to maintaining the particulate matter of the air at a steady level in order to avoid death. The current level of AQI index in Beijing is 172 which are considered to be unhealthy (Su et al. 2016).

The figure 1 shows that the particulate matter concentration in the air of the city has been on the decline since the year 2002. However, the existing particulate matter in the air has always been more than the level recommended by World health organization. While the recommended AQI level is fixed at 100, the level in case of Beijing has always been more than that (Wu et al. 2016). This information coupled up with the current level of AQI index clearly shows that efforts from the side of the authority is ineffective and is not meeting the goals.

Ecosystem service analysis

The pressure on the level of air pollution in the air of Beijing remains very high due to the high economic growth rate of the country. The economic growth rate of china as per the data of 2016 is 6.5% which is high compared to the other countries of the world (Zhang et al. 2016).  China is the manufacture dependent economy and hence any further growth rate in the economic production has the chance to increase the air pollution in Beijing as well (He, Fan & Zhou, 2016). Given the manufacturing sector of the country is still growing the risk of higher deterioration in the air quality in Beijing remains (Sanchez-Guerra et al. 2015). Another factor that creates pressure on the air pollution level of the city is the increased population.

The current population of the city stands at 21 million in the year 2018 and it is growing at a steady rate. As per the estimation, the population of the city is expected to hit 27 million before the year 2025 (Tang et al. 2016). This means, in the future, the pressure on the air quality is estimated to increase. Given this information, it is important for the management mechanism to work to their full potential in order to improve the situation in the city. Another risk that is there in terms of the air pollution level in the city is its topography. Beijing is surrounded by high mountains and therefore the poor quality air of the city does not have any scope to go away through ventilation mechanisms. Therefore, particulate matters of the air above Beijing hovers around and increase in number eventually increasing the pollution to an alarming rate. Su et al. (2016) highlighted that the risk and the pressure on the air quality in Beijing depends on the season and the humidity level. During the summer season, the high humidity level carries the harmful pollutant particle and creates smog in the city.  

Ecosystem service is referred to as the benefits that are provided by the natural environment of the world to the lives surviving on earth (Rohde & Muller, 2015). The service of the ecosystem towards the lives on earth can be categorized into four groups which involve the provisional services, the regulating services, cultural services and the supporting services. The provisional services provided by the ecosystem include the provisions that the environment extends towards the lives. Regulating services are the regulating resources which are provided by the environment (Sanchez-Guerra et al. 2015). Cultural services are spiritual impacts, cognitive development and many more. Lastly, the supporting services are the contribution of the ecosystem towards the sustenance of the environment and the support towards other environmental resources of the world.  The ecosystem service analysis measures the value of the services of the ecosystem so that their values can be incorporated in economic and political decision making thereby keeping the ecosystem safe.

Property rights

The ecosystem service analysis for the case of Beijing is provided below:

Provisional services

The provisional services provided by air are highly affected by the air pollution in Beijing. One of the main provisional services is the oxygen that helps in the breathing of the lives on earth. However, with the rise in the particulate matter in the air along with the nitrogen oxide level, the oxygen level has gone down. Rohde & Muller (2015) pointed out that, since the year 2010, the oxygen level in Beijing has dropped more than 50%.

Regulating services

The regulating services of the air include the temperature management and climate change. However, with the increase in the dust particle in the air, regulating services have been highly affected. Rich et al. (2015) highlighted that the temperature in the country as a whole has increased in most part. Another problem with the increasing air pollution is that it hampers the regulating services of air which immunes’ lives on earth from different diseases. The number of patients with lung disease has increased in Beijing following the pollution in the air of the city.

Supporting services

The supporting services of the environment are referred to as the service that it provides for the support of the lives in the ecosystem. For example the soil formation, air cleaning which helps the lives of the other animals in the ecosystem better. Peckham et al. (2015) highlighted that the high level of air pollution in Beijing also have resulted in the loss of lives for some of the exotic birds of the country. This reduction in the birds also has affected the natural value of the ecosystem and its balance. This is due to the fact that supporting services of the environment has fallen apart and hence it is important for the government to take action in order to replenish the supporting services of the environment.

Cultural services

The clear sky enables the citizen of the Beijing to experience the wonderful sky at night. For any city in the world, the night sky is an important part they enhance the beauty even more. The high level of pollution makes it unable for the citizen to gaze star. (Liu et al. 2016) commented that, even the moon sometimes go in the haze behind the thick smog of the city.

Property rights

The property rights of the air of the city belongs the environment and the city has a whole. Therefore the fact that production houses destroy the quality of air for their profit is a violation of rights which the government needs to take care of. Jiang et al. (2015) pointed out that some part of the right towards the air also goes to the other animals and creatures of the ecosystem and hence the output decisions of the production units needs to include the property rights of the important environmental resources such as the air.

The current management mechanism of the government in china is mostly command and control wherein they tend to monitor the results and command the companies to take actions against it. The goals or the target which lie in front of the Beijing air pollution control authority is very tough to achieve given the reason of deteriorating air quality and the external pressures that are there on the quality of air of the city. In order to mitigate the widespread negative impacts of the air pollution in many of the cities of the country including Beijing, the government has developed a cross-regional authority. The objective of the authority is to monitor the air pollution level of different cities of the country especially Beijing. However, Lin et al. (2015) noted that the decisions and the policies undertaken by the authority is mostly defensive that leads to the ineffectiveness. The mechanism has failed to reduce the level of air pollution in most of the Chinese cities including Beijing. Apart from that, a separate mechanism has also been undertaken by the president of the country under which the pollution level in the cities such as Beijing is monitored. Li et al. (2015) pointed out that the problem with this mechanism is that it does not have the autonomy to undertake decisions based on the result and hence negative effects of the air pollutions harm the citizen of Beijing before something is done from the side of the authority. However, one of the most important advantages of this mechanism is that it quantifies the air quality level in Beijing providing accurate details to the central government of the country. One of the inclusive features of the mechanism is the penalty system that fines organizations with high pollution levels (Brook et al. 2015). Critics also have commented in this case saying that lobbying is commonplace in these cases leading to negotiation between these organisations and government. In addition to that there has been an absence of economic incentive which has better effect on the pollution emission rather than the command and control process (Lin et al. 2015).

Furthermore, the mechanism in order to manage the air quality of the cities of the country including Beijing also includes the awareness programmes wherein the government put across regular message towards the organisations and the general people regarding the use of coal. Lelieveld et al. (2015) pointed out that burning coal is the major source of the air pollution in case of Beijing that comes from the different industries. Apart from that, most of the electric generating grids also use the coals which lead to increase in the particulate matter in the air of the city. The management mechanisms for the control of the air pollution in Beijing mainly categorises the different type of pollutants that come from different sources of the environment. These involve the sulphur oxide and the nitrogen oxide which mainly comes from the operation of the organisation in the economy. In this context, the Chinese research academy of environmental sciences has said that this, for the sake of the economy, is hard to curb and hence the government should look for other ways to mitigate the problem. The objective of the government needs to be to reduce the free riding problems such that emissions at each of the units go down in the economy. Furthermore, the authority of Beijing also follows a strict car control mechanism for the new licensing of the cars and other automobiles. In this context, Hou et al. (2016) stated that the authority of the city has failed miserably till now in controlling the pollution from the production of the private goods. Therefore, it is important to introduce private good from the side of the government in order to improve the quality of air in Beijing. 

Given the existing mechanism that is available for the management of the air quality if the city relative to the problem that the city is facing, there exists a lot of opportunity for the management. The regional cross country authority that currently only monitors the AQI readings can have the autonomy to undertake and execute decisions. Guo et al. (2016) noted that, with the improvement in the technology, the opportunity for the management to increase the efficiency of the mechanism is also there.

Based on the study of the topic and the gathered knowledge it is recommended to the management that, it strictly bans the production units in Beijing that do not adheres to the environment norms of the city. In addition to that, the management can also levy a pollution tax on the firms that cross the limit. It is kind of a CO2 emission tax where the government should collect taxes from the market players if their emission level crosses a predefined level. This kind of economic taxation is better than command and control or polluting rights due to the fact that it directly influences the cost of the company. In other words, the violations of the property rights through negative externality of production can be easily be mitigated through this process. This mechanism is the best for reducing any kind of point source pollution in the environment.

There are some of the production units which are important for the economy of the city; however, their production process emits pollution particles in the environment. This tax will be beneficial in managing these situations. In addition to that, the study also shows that the main footprint of the Chinese economy is the manufacturing which contributes to the air pollution with the economic growth as well. In this case, it is recommended to the authority to use transferable polluting rights to the manufacturing units so that the overall pollution in the environment can be controlled through trade.

Another important recommendation regarding the mechanism for the management of the air quality in Beijing is to provide autonomy to the cross country authorities that monitor the air qualities in different parts of the country. This will enable them to undertake instant actions upon the sudden increase in the particulate matter in the air and hence the deaths can be avoided easily.

Conclusions

Therefore the pollution level in Beijing has reached an alarming level which is negatively impacting on the lives of the people of the city. The air quality level of the city is further under the risk of increasing economic performance and the pollution of the city which has a direct impact on the level of pollution. Although the government and the concerned authorities have been active in reducing the pollution level in order to improve the air quality, their efforts have not been enough. The actions and the policies of the government have fallen apart due to the due to the existence of lobbying and corruption. Given that most of the services of the ecosystem have been hampered, it is important for the government and the concerned authority to provide more autonomy to the cross country authorities which currently only monitors the situation and waits for the centre to take an action on the poor quality of air of Beijing.

References

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