Country-scale trends in air pollution and fossil fuel CO2emissions during 2001-2018: Confronting the roles of national policies and economic growth

Ruixue Lei, Sha Feng, Thomas Claude Yves Lauvaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fossil fuel (FF) burning, the main energy source of the modern world's economy, remains the major source of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollutants in the atmosphere. Based on 18 years (2001-2018) of aerosol optical depth (AOD) data from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite, FFCO2 emissions from the Open-Data Inventory for Anthropogenic Carbon dioxide, and gross domestic product (GDP) data from the World Bank, we found that air quality, FF consumption, and economy are strongly bonded at the continental scale but decoupled at the national level under favorable policies. The comparison of AOD vs PM2.5 and NO2 over urbanized areas shows that the pollutants leading to the AOD load can vary significantly by country. A strong connection between GDP and FFCO2 emissions indicates that economic growth deeply replies on FF consumption in most countries. Meanwhile, air pollution is more associated with the growing trend than the level of development of a country. With more mature technologies and renewable energy, economies can keep growing without compromising their environment and population health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014006
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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