The Jakarta Post
China announced it would launch a nationwide carbon emissions trading market during President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States on Friday, injecting new political energy into climate change talks ahead of December's UN climate summit in Paris.
The country will start a nationwide emission trading scheme, or a carbon cap-and-trade system, beginning in 2017, which covers the high-polluting power sector and industrial sector, it was announced.
Trials in seven locations began from 2011, but Friday's announcement indicated that the creation of a carbon trading market and putting a price tag on greenhouse gas emissions has become a national-level strategy, experts said.
Yang Fuqiang, a senior adviser on climate change, energy and environment at the National Resources Defense Council, said climate change has increasingly become a highlight for China-US cooperation, as the two are the world's largest emitters and need to work more closely for the common good, apart from other core issues such as trade and economy.
The move is a step forward under the deal reached between leaders of two countries in November, during US President Barack Obama's state visit to Beijing. China pledged to peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and make its best effort to peak earlier, in a joint China-US announcement on climate change.
Since 2011, China has launched pilot projects for carbon trading in locations including the cities of Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing and in Hubei and Guangdong provinces.
Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy officer at Greenpeace East Asia, said creating a national market and putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in energy-guzzling and highly polluting industries, will help China implement its climate change goals as well as help it realize a revolutionary transition from coal to renewable energies.
The plan is part of China's larger strategy to promote green, low-carbon development and meet its goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Its commitment is expected to galvanize delegates going into this year's climate change summit in Paris, experts said.
In late June, the central government submitted proposals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In June, during a visit to Paris, Premier Li Keqiang announced the nation's ambitious targets for cutting energy consumption per unit of economic output by 60 to 65 per cent from its 2005 level.
The blueprint also includes green dispatch rules to increase renewable energy into the electrical grid, to improve the energy efficiency of green buildings and to collaborate with the US on heavy-duty truck emission standards.
'China actually has moved quite an advanced position compared with many developing countries in green dispatch, particularly in utilizing hydropower; in the next step, utilization efficiency of solar and wind power is expected to be highly improved,' said Yang of the NRDC.
Lian Weiliang, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said earlier this month that China will eliminate obstacles for using wind and solar power by deepening reform in its electrical system.
China will select a few regions as pilots for carrying out a comprehensive reform of its electrical system and improve the use of wind and solar, he said.
It will also increase scrutiny of the financing of highly polluting development projects, both domestically and internationally. (k)(++++)
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