IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 850: Does the `Miracle Drug` of Environmental Governance Really Improve Air Quality? Evidence from China`s System of Central Environmental Protection Inspections (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Central environmental protection inspections have completed their goal of full coverage of 31 provinces in China, and more than 17,000 officials have been held accountable. The media has evaluated the effectiveness of central environmental protection inspections using the notions of “instant results” and the “miracle drug of environmental governance.” Can this approach effectively promote local environmental governance? This paper takes the treatment effect of central environmental protection inspections on air pollution as an example. Using the method of regression discontinuity, central environmental protection inspections are found to have a positive effect on the air quality index (AQI), but this effect is only short term and unsustainable. Additionally, there are inter-provincial differences. Judging from the research results on sub-contaminants, the treatment effect of central environmental protection inspections on air pollution is mainly reflected in PM10, PM2.5 and CO. Under the current situation in which PM10 and PM2.5 are the main assessment indexes, this phenomenon indicates that due to the political achievements and promotion of local officials and for reasons of accountability, it is more effective for the central government to conduct specific environmental assessments through local governments than to conduct central environmental protection inspections.