Apr 25, 2018

Study: China's push to slash carbon emissions will pay for itself

A state-run coal-fired plant in Huainan, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The health and air-quality benefits of Chinese efforts to slash carbon emissions will largely or even fully offset the costs of the climate initiatives, a new paper in Nature Climate Change by MIT scholars shows.

Why it matters: China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has pledged to have its carbon emissions peak by 2030 and ideally sooner.

The big picture: Steps that lower carbon, like moving away from coal, typically reduce traditional pollutants that directly damage health too, like fine particulates and sulfur dioxide.

What they found: The paper models the effect of using carbon pricing to achieve CO2 intensity cuts of 3%, 4%, and 5% annually through 2030 (with the 4% figure as a proxy for meeting China's Paris pledge).

  • Policy that provides those intensity cuts will lead to avoided premature deaths of 36,000, 94,000, and 160,000 respectively in 2030, and "avoided mortality translates into net health co-benefits that rise faster than policy costs."
  • The net health benefits of the middle 4% annual scenario would be about $340 billion in 2030, which a summary of the research notes would be about four times the cost of implementing the emissions curbs.

Quick take: Politically, the research confirms why Chinese officials have their own internal reasons to cut CO2 even though the U.S. is abandoning Paris and disengaging internationally on climate.

  • As multiple policy analysts have noted, steps that improve China's terrible air quality are important to the Chinese regime because pollution has become a source of domestic unrest and costs.

Go deeper

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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