Decarbonisation, climate change and pre-mature deaths

Carbon dioxide emissions have nearly doubled from 270ppm, before the industrial revolution, to 420ppm in 2022. China is the world’s top emitter of CO2 with power generation being the main culprit while it relies predominantly on coal for its power generation. Cyprus also is unique since it is one of the few grid-isolated countries which relies mostly on oil-fired power generation. Partial decarbonisation of the global energy mix warrants the gradual transition away from coal into less pollution emitting energy sources such as natural gas and renewable energy sources. China’s President Xi Jinping has stated that it aims by 2060 to become carbon neutral. The European Commission has stated the same goal by 2050.

Carbon dioxide is not the only gas considered to affect people’s lives. During the last decade, in the European Union (EU) alone, premature mortality risks related to pollutants had decreased by about 15%, but still, more than 400,000 premature deaths were attributed to air pollution. Similar to other countries a substantial amount of air pollutants, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, in Cyprus originate from transport and residential heating activities.

Our findings reveal that it is possible for Cyprus and China to become carbon neutral by 2050. Furthermore, if Cyprus was to adopt measures such as banning old vehicles and diesel-powered cars, pre-mature death related to nitrogen oxide pollution could have been reduced by 70%, as shown in Fig 1.

Fig. 1. Average concentration of NOx emissions in Nicosia for a nine-month period. Left figure a) displays 2017 simulated values while map b) shows the Euro 6 standard and a potential ban in diesel passenger vehicles and light duty vehicles for the same nine-month time frame.

Commencement date: Sept. 2018-

Research Team: Mr. Evangelos Demetriou, Dr. Constantinos Hadjistassou, Ms Michelle Duri

Publications and other material:

Demetriou E., Hadjistassou C. Lowering Mortality Risks in Urban Areas by Containing Atmospheric Pollution, Environmental Research, Elsevier, 211, 113096, pp. 14, 2022; DOI:

Demetriou E., Hadjistassou C. Can China Decarbonize its Electricity Sector? Energy Policy, 148, 111917, pp. 24, 2021; DOI:

Demetriou E., Mallouppas G., Hadjistassou C. Embracing Carbon Neutral Electricity and Transportation Sectors in Cyprus, Journal of Energy, 120625, pp. 18, 2021; DOI:

Demetriou E. A Paradigm Shift for Selectively Decarbonising China and Cyprus and Lowering Vehicle Emissions. Doctoral Thesis, University of Nicosia, pp. 156, 2022.

A Paradigm Shift for Selectively Decarbonizing China and Cyprus

Reducing atmospheric pollution can spare human lives

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