Carbon market is a fight against pollution

China yesterday unveiled plans for a national carbon market likely to become the world's largest exchange for emissions credits.

China yesterday unveiled plans for a national carbon market likely to become the world’s largest exchange for emissions credits.

China burns more coal than any other country. The fuel generates most of the nation’s power but the country has moved rapidly this winter to limit its use in north China.

The launch of the long-delayed carbon exchange scheme is a sign that China is taking its war on pollution to new levels.

The country is the largest investor in renewable energy but has faced an uphill battle transitioning from coal, which is used to generate roughly three quarters of its power, according to the International Energy Agency. 

“The launch of the Chinese carbon market shows that there is increased commitment around the world to price pollution and direct investments into clean technologies,” said Femke de Jong, policy director at Carbon Market Watch.

China is seen as a potential leader in the fight against climate change after the United States retreated from the Paris accord struck in 2015.

The emission exchange outlined by officials from China’s National Development and Reform Commission may slowly change the calculus for utilities and other coal burners.

“The purpose of this program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said commission Vice Chairman Zhang Yong.

“We aim to reduce emissions through market-based mechanisms.”

The immediate focus for establishing the carbon credit exchange is on the power-generation industry, Zhang said.

“Some 1,700 electric companies emitted more than 3 billion tons of carbon,” Zhang said. “This is where we will get to it.”

The project expands on the lessons learned from seven provincial and city carbon exchanges.

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