Alberto Salvo (Department of Economics, National University of Singapore) will present research on how local pollution drives global pollution through emissions feedback via residential electricity usage:
"A recent literature worries about the alarming adoption of energy-hungry durable goods such as air conditioners by the rising middle class and the implications for greenhouse gas emissions. With 40% of the world’s population living in the tropics, studies consider weather as well as income as drivers of air conditioner use. Here I show that a key behavioral driver of residential electricity use is local air pollution, which ranges from high to severe in the urban developing world. I access longitudinal data on utilities usage for a 10% random sample of households in Singapore over 40 months. Due to its fast growth, Singapore combines rich-country residential capital stocks with routine developing-country levels of particle pollution. This unique laboratory enables the identification of a linkage by which local air quality has enduring, global impacts. Households health. Electricity use grows by 1% when PM2.5 levels rise by 10 μg/m3 (and water use by 0.4% – another novel result). The impact of particle pollution on electricity demand is statistically significant at 20 μg/m3 PM2.5, consistent with visibility impairment. Hitherto ignored benefits of pollution control in emerging megacities, missed in the cost-of-illness approach, are reduced household electricity expenditure and carbon mitigation from reduced electricity generation. "