China brings forward start date of carbon trading scheme


A Chinese climate official has announced the start date for the world’s largest emissions trading scheme has been brought forward by two years, according to Reuters.

A report run by the news agency on Sunday said Sun Cuihua, a senior official in China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told a conference in Beijing on Sunday a national carbon market would be launched in 2016.

China already has seven pilot schemes in place – five in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen and two provincial schemes, in Hubei and Guangdong.

The NDRC had originally planned to introduce a national carbon market in 2018 but, according to Reuters, Cuihua announced on Sunday: "We will send over the national market regulations to the State Council for approval by the end of the year," with a view to introducing a national scheme by 2016 in a country which is estimated to produce almost a third of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The report added, however, provinces lacking the technical infrastructure to introduce carbon trading would be permitted to delay joining.

Middle class unrest

The rapid growth of a Chinese middle class has gone hand in hand with increasing unrest in the country over the damage caused to the air, water and soil by the nation’s rapid industrialization.

According to Reuters, the Chinese government has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP by 40-45 per cent of its 2005 levels by 2020.

The pilot schemes have returned a value for carbon permits in line with similar schemes worldwide with, according to Center for Climate Energy Solutions figures quoted by the independent motherjones news website, carbon costs in April 2013 ranging from $4.29/metric ton of CO2 in Hubei province up to $12.91/ton in the city of Shenzhen.

A national carbon trading scheme would dwarf the market operating in the EU – currently the world’s largest – and would supplement existing carbon markets in Kazakhstan and New Zealand with Reuters reporting South Korea plans to introduce a national scheme in January and south east Asian neighbours Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia have also drawn up plans for similar schemes.

A move by China to follow the World Bank’s wishes to set up carbon-cap-and-trade schemes worldwide would put the emphasis back on the U.S., the world’s second largest carbon emitting nation, where plans for a carbon trading scheme failed to pass the senate in 2009, over fears of its affect on the competitiveness of American industry.