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'Quite Ambitious': China Pegs Cost of Its Climate Plan at $6.6 Trillion

It will cost China over $6.6 trillion to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals it will lay out later this month.
Image: Man wearing a face mask on a hazy day in Beijing
A man wearing a face mask walks in front of the Forbidden City on a hazy day in Beijing on June 23, 2015. Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- It will cost China over $6.6 trillion to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals it will lay out later this month in its strategy for United Nations climate negotiations, the country's lead negotiator for the talks said Tuesday. Xie Zhenhua, special representative for climate change affairs at China's National Development and Reform Commission, said the objectives China will outline by the end of June will be "quite ambitious." Xie was participating in a three-day Strategic and Economic Dialog forum in Washington where he met with counterparts in the Obama administration, including U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

To meet its objectives, China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, must reconfigure its coal-dependent energy mix and develop new energy sources, Xie said. "We will need to carry out international cooperation and research and development to reduce the costs of relevant technologies and to innovate so that we can reach our objectives," he told reporters at a State Department briefing.

Related: White House: Action on Climate Change Could Save Tens of Thousands of Lives

The United States and China announced on Monday they will partner on two new carbon-capture, utilization and storage projects to help commercialize the technology. While key details of China's plan are not yet known, it is expected to include targets announced in November, when it reached a key climate change deal with Washington to cap its emissions by 2030 and fill 20 percent of its energy needs from zero-carbon sources. Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed the government's commitment to hit a carbon emissions peak by "around 2030." The country's coal consumption decreased for the first time in years in 2014, however, leading some to speculate that its emissions could reach their peak sooner.

Ahead of the UN's climate change conference in Paris, countries are required to submit national plans, which will serve as the building blocks of a final agreement. So far, 11 countries, including the United States and Mexico, as well as the European Union have submitted theirs.