New Book Compares Steps to Combat Air Pollutions in Two Major Cities

February 13, 2024
Dean Emeritus Ottinger and Professor Wang Xi

Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger, of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, and Professor Wang Xi, of Kunming University of Science and Technology in China, have published a book that compares efforts to curb air pollution in two of the world’s largest urban areas, Los Angeles and Beijing. Their book, A Tale of Two Cities: A Comparison of Air Pollution Governance in the Los Angeles Area of the USA and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Area of China, was more than 8 years in the making and the product of a joint study with Renewables 100 Policy Institute.

According to the book’s publisher, Wolters Kluwer, “A Tale of Two Cities is an exceptional book focusing on two of the world’s most prominent cases and exploring how people in the areas of Los Angeles and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) established remarkably similar governance processes to combat air pollution and how the major actors in each area worked to make their region a better place to live. Employing the expertise of teams of knowledgeable environmental law experts from both China and the United States, the authors identify and analyze similarities and differences in the respective legal and policy experiences as actors succeeded in greatly improving the air quality of their areas.”

“We decided to produce a joint study to show what steps Los Angeles took to reduce its air pollution, which is quite a remarkable story, because decades ago, the pollution there was so thick that you could hardly see across the street,” said Dean Emeritus Ottinger.

“We also show what steps Beijing is taking to mitigate its serious air pollution problems. Not long ago, they had to close down their local economy and tell people to stay home because the health risks were so serious. Hopefully, our study will be useful to any state, city or local government that is grappling with solutions to the problem of air pollution,” he said.

 “Our joint study develops a useful model of environmental governance that encompasses the relationship between regulatory agencies and the entities they regulate, government entities and regulators, and polluting entities and society at large,” added Professor Wang Xi. “In spite of great differences in the politics and cultures of these two cities, there are clear similarities in the way they worked to improve air quality.”

Dean Emeritus Ottinger is co-director of the Pace Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies. He founded the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, which advocates for climate change mitigation and promotion of clean energy resources. In his 16 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he authored a substantial body of energy and environmental laws. He was one of the earliest environmentalists in Congress in 1965.

Professor Wang Xi, a leading China environmental law scholar advocating with Kunming University of Science and Technology, was previously a professor of Wuhan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and served as visiting professor at the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2014. Professor Xi was named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy, one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards. He was instrumental in the development of Chinese environmental law, a new area of growing importance. He has since been a key influencer in a major revision to China’s framework environmental protection law, which was accepted and adopted by the Chinese National Congress in 2014.

Learn more about the book here.

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