China moves on carbon market as part of emissions plan

Beijing plans to launch national carbon market in 2016 to be mature by 2020, says official

A national carbon market will help Beijing control industrial emissions (Pic: Flickr/Bert van Dijk)

A national carbon market will help Beijing control industrial emissions
(Pic: Flickr/Bert van Dijk)

By Megan Darby

China is planning to launch a national carbon market in 2016, an official confirmed on Tuesday.

The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China has committed to start reducing its emissions around 2030.

Su Wei, China’s chief climate negotiator and an official at the influential National Development and Reform Commission said Beijing may unveil carbon market rules by the end of this year, reported Bloomberg.

The carbon market, which forms part of a wider strategy to control emissions, is expected to mature by 2020.

It builds on seven regional pilot schemes that cover about a third of China’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Dirk Forrister, chief executive of the International Emissions Trading Association, told RTCC the announcement was “an encouraging sign of China’s seriousness”.

The timetable is “tight” but “doable”, he said, given the pilots and research collaboration with the World Bank.

“It’s an impressive statement – and we look forward to further collaboration with the Chinese government and industries in the future.”

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The carbon market will cap emissions from power stations and heavy industry.

If a factory emits less than its quota, it can sell the excess permits. If it emits more, it must buy permits.

The idea is that participants will cut emissions where it is cheapest to do so.

Yvo de Boer, head of the Global Green Growth Institute and the UN’s former chief climate official said it was “an absolute no-brainer” for an economy like China, “which has massive inefficiencies”.

Beijing is “probably quite well prepared” to introduce a national carbon market, he told RTCC.

“Asian countries are very good at quietly studying things behind the scenes and then taking bold decisions.”

Report: US and China agree historic climate deal

It comes a fortnight after China’s president, Xi Jinping, agreed to absolute emissions reductions for the first time.

In a pact with his US counterpart Barack Obama, Xi promised to try and reach peak emissions in 2030 or sooner.

US climate change envoy Todd Stern said on Monday there was “a very real chance” China would be able to peak earlier.

At the Center for American Progress in Washington, Stern said the Chinese “are very committed to” economic restructuring, that would make them less reliant on polluting industries.

He was speaking a week before negotiators meet in Lima, Peru, for the next round of UN climate talks.

The US-China pact gives momentum to efforts to strike a global climate deal in Paris next year, Stern said.

“If you were holding stock in the Paris negotiations, your stock would have gone up after this announcement. Because here you have the two historic antagonists, the two biggest players on climate change, have come together at the presidential level to say we’re going to work together.”

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