January 14, 2019

AQLI Launches in China as EPIC Forms Partnership with the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Mandarin version makes AQLI accessible to 1 billion additional users.

The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), an interactive, data-driven tool that translates particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy, is now fully available in Mandarin for people in China and other Mandarin-speakers around the world. The addition builds on the great interest that the AQLI has generated since its launch two months ago, with more than 20 thousand visitors from 153 countries using the tool. The AQLI has been covered by more than 70 media outlets in 8 countries, included a dynamic feature on the homepage of The Washington Post.

The addition of the Mandarin version now makes the AQLI accessible to 1 billion more users, expanding the Index’s ability to inform citizens and policymakers about particulates air pollution, the greatest threat to human health globally. Mandarin users have access to all the same capabilities as the English-language version of the site, including the ability to explore and download data, get basic information on pollution and health, review successful case studies, and access the latest reports and analysis.  Users in China will automatically access the site in Mandarin, while Mandarin-speakers elsewhere can select the language from an option menu.

“Until now, the risk of air pollution has been communicated in opaque and confusing ways, translating air pollution concentrations into colors, like red, brown, orange, and green. The AQLI’s power is that it converts these concentrations into perhaps the most important metric that exists—life expectancy,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, the College and the Harris School and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). “The Mandarin version is especially important because it provides a measure of how China’s ‘War on Pollution’ is allowing people to live longer lives in China. In the coming year, we will expand the AQLI to additional languages.”

Of the AQLI, Jiang Kejun, a senior researcher at the Energy Research Institute in the Chinese government’s National Development and Reform Commission, said, “We must tell the public and the government what the risk and impact is if we really want to improve air quality. So this is very important for us to have.”

EPIC and UCAS Partner to Form Joint Institute on Chinese Energy and Environmental Policy

EPIC launched the Mandarin version at an event in Beijing co-hosted by the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS). At the event, the University of Chicago and UCAS also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form an energy and environmental research collaboration for the next five years. Its focus will be on conducting frontier research that will aim to have policy implications for China’s efforts to balance the need for inexpensive and reliable energy with the health and climate impacts of its energy choices.

“We believe this historic and exciting partnership between the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Chicago has great potential to advance fundamental understanding and its applications in the months and years ahead,” said University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer. “I am very confident that together we will make advances on some of the world’s most critical challenges that neither of us could do individually.”

Of the collaboration, UCAS President Shushen LI said:  “We are excited to form this historic partnership and to pursue this important work. Our relationship combines the prominent engineering expertise of UCAS with the University of Chicago’s global leadership in economic analysis. Working together, I believe these two perspectives have the ability to produce new ideas and solutions that might not exist otherwise. It is truly exciting.”

The event also included a panel discussion on the effects of air pollution on public health and China’s progress thus far in improving its air quality. Participants included Greenstone and Kejun from the National Development and Reform Commission, along with Kang Yanbing, the director of the Energy Sustainability Center under China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Sun Ye-Le from the Institute of Atmospheric Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhongbo Hu from UCAS and Kevin Mo from EPIC.

EPIC is an affiliate of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI), which launched BFI-China in 2018 to bring the rigor of Chicago Economics to numerous challenges facing the Chinese economy through a range of partnerships with leading Chinese research institutions. BFI announced a separate collaboration with Tsinghua University in November 2018 to form the Tsinghua University–University of Chicago Joint Research Center for Economics and Finance.