As part of the Paris Agreement, hundreds of countries pledged to develop plans to fight climate change. The short-term costs of those policies can be expensive, but a new study shows the long-term benefits of a healthier Earth may offset those costs.
Researchers created a model which showed how certain climate change policies would change the economy of China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter. If China sticks with current plans to slash 4 percent of its total carbon emissions a year through 2030, researchers said the country would reap $340 billion in economic benefits. That's nearly four times the cost of the climate change policy itself.
The bulk of this return on investment comes in the form of a larger, healthier population. Researchers noted that if China had no carbon-reduction policy in place, the country would suffer 2.3 million premature pollution-related deaths by 2030. But with the 4 percent plan, they estimate China can avoid 94,000 premature deaths a year.
The team behind the study noted that China could see even bigger health and environmental benefits if it moved away from using coal as a primary energy source. And China has done that. In 2017, for example, Beijing finished a project to get rid of its coal plants by either shutting them down or converting them to natural gas plants.