Transboundary Air Pollution Mitigation

Challenges of Transboundary Air Pollution in North-East Asia

Transboundary air pollution has been recognized as one of the most serious environmental challenges in North-East Asia due to a wide range of subregional factors such as geographical proximity of member countries, increasing energy consumption, and lack of technology as well as inadequacy of comprehensive regional framework in addressing the problem. 

In this view, member countries have made significant progress in reducing SO2 emissions since the 1990s. For instance, China reduced SO2 emissions from electric power generation by 31.4 percent from 2005 to 2010. Aside from SO2 emissions, however, the subregion faces challenges of other air pollutants such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted from power plants and automobiles and create ground-level ozone. In response to the ongoing challenges, national governments are putting great efforts in addressing the issue. 

  • China: As the world’s top coal producer and consumer, China faces the environmental challenges of vehicle emissions and acid rain. The Chinese government is developing measures to limit coal consumption and increase forest area, while also imposing fines on heavily polluting industries.
  • Japan: Suffering from air pollution caused by NO2, photochemical oxidants, and PM2.5, the Japanese government has introduced regulatory measures and economic measures to protect the environment. 
  • ROK: With emissions of NOx, Ozone, VOCs and secondary dust from increasing cars and electricity consumption, ROK government has implemented the Total Air Pollution Load Management System which manages businesses by rationing annual emissions. 
  • Mongolia: Over 90 percent of electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants that have degraded efficiency due to old age and lack of maintenance. The government has planned to build an advanced combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Ulaanbaatar to further reduce SO2 emissions. 
  • Russian Federation: The Russian Federation government’s monitoring stations have helped to decrease total emissions from stationary sources and motor transport by roughly 42 percent from 1990 to 2010. 
  • Mitigation of Transboundary Air Pollution from Coal-fired Power plants in North-East Asia

From 1996 to 2012, in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB), NEASPEC implemented a three-phase-project on mitigation of transboundary air pollution from coal-fired power plants, increasing the technical capacity to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants in China and Mongolia. The project included assessment of SO2 control technologies and emission standards, and improvement of technical practices for emission reduction.


  • Review of Addressing Environmental Impact of Transboundary Air Pollution in North-East Asia

The Secretariat and national experts carried out a comprehensive study in 2011 and 2012 to identify existing gaps and priorities for subregional cooperation, promote common methodologies, and  provide options for a comprehensive multilateral approach on assessment and mitigation of transboundary air pollution in North-East Asia. Taking into account the existing mechanisms, this project also aims at further strengthening the linkages between scientific studies and policy making process in order to make the best use of the research outcomes for addressing national and subregional challenges to mitigating air pollution.

NEASPEC Secretariat