Kerry: China Says It Might Not Use Coal Plants It’s Building, Have to Spend Trillions a Year to Hit Climate Goals

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Climate John Kerry

On Wednesday’s broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry stated that hitting climate goals will cost between 2.5 to 5 trillion dollars annually “for the next 30 years” and that he believes China might not actually use the new coal plants they’re building because “That’s what they say to us. And that’s what begins to be a possibility as we look at the massive amount of renewable that’s being deployed.”

Co-host Ari Shapiro asked, [relevant exchange begins around 3:10] “China is building more coal-fired power plants and the U.S.[‘s] emissions are not falling fast enough to meet American climate goals. And so, what leads you to believe that these promises will be kept?”

Kerry responded, “Yes, China has about 360 gigawatts of coal-fired power that is slated to come online or be built. And that would be catastrophic if that’s what happens. But China is, I think, to some degree, hedging against the reality of what their economy needs as a backstop. But they’re building, they’re constructing and deploying more renewables than all of the rest of the world put together.”

Shapiro then asked, “You think the coal plants are a just in case break glass in case of emergency that might never be used?”

Kerry answered, “That’s what they say to us. And that’s what begins to be a possibility as we look at the massive amount of renewable that’s being deployed.”

Later, Kerry stated, “All the finance reports say, if you want to achieve net zero 2050, then it’s going to cost about 2.5 to 4.5, 5 trillion dollars a year for the next 30 years. No government in the world has that money to put on the table, but the private sector does.” And that “if we don’t do what we need to do between now and 2030, the next six years, there is no net zero 2050, and I refuse to believe that that’s what we’re left having to accept.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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