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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

Ina Fried, author of Login
8 mins ago - Technology

Tech's race problem is all about power

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As problematic as the tech industry's diversity statistics are, activists say the focus on those numbers overlooks a more fundamental problem — one less about numbers than about power.

What they're saying: In tech, they argue, decision-making power remains largely concentrated in the hands of white men. The result is an industry whose products and working conditions belie the industry rhetoric about changing the world for the better.

Mayors fear long-lasting effects of COVID-19

Data: Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

Coronavirus hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking ProjectHarvard Global Health Institute; Cartogram: Danielle Alberti and Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 100,000 Americans are now in the hospital with coronavirus infections — a new record, an indication that the pandemic is continuing to get worse and a reminder that the virus is still very dangerous.

Why it matters: Hospitalizations are a way to measure severe illnesses — and severe illnesses are on the rise across the U.S. In some areas, health systems and health care workers are already overwhelmed, and outbreaks are only getting worse.