As a reaction to the extreme air pollution in china, environmental non-governmental organizations and so called GONGO’s (government organized non-governmental organizations) have created apps monitoring and spreading information about Chinese air pollution.  In his lunch seminar at CAS Fighting air pollution with APPs Hongtao Li talks about how these apps spread information about the level of air pollution in China. 

By publishing the real time Air Quality Index (AQI) and PM2.5 level these apps has become a huge part of many Chinese’s everyday life. They tell you if you need to wear a mask outside or if you need to turn on your air purifier. Not only do these apps publish air quality indexes, several of them include information about the emission of specific factories. This is part of a strategy called name and shame, meant to encourage these factories to reduce their emissions. Users of the apps can spread information about a highly polluting factory in their social networks to create awareness, and hopefully contribute to accountability. A big problem though, is that many factories still refuse to report their emissions or report falsely, leading to huge dark figures in the statistics.

These apps are not only extremely valuable to the Chinese public, they also have a huge potential bringing awareness to international companies and consumers about how their production and consumption might be directly linked to the Chinese air pollution.  

Read more about the CAS project Airborne: Pollution, Climate Change, and New Visions of Sustainability in China.