China Delays Carbon Trading Market

Launch of carbon market’s first phase delayed to 2021 . . . 

A senior academic who helped Beijing craft its carbon trading market plans has indicated the market will likely begin functioning next year instead of later this year as previously planned. China’s national emissions trading scheme (ETS) has experienced several technical problems, most notably concerns over the transparency and accuracy of baseline emissions data on which the scheme will be based. The ETS’ first phase covers the country’s immense electricity generation sector, with seven other sectors to be added in the coming years. Electricity generation in China accounts for roughly between two-fifths and a half of the country’s carbon emissions, depending on how the data is classified. Once emissions trading begins, China’s ETS is expected to quickly replace the European Union’s as the world’s largest such program.

World’s biggest emitter promises carbon neutrality by 2060 . . .

The delay is an early setback to China’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2060, an announcement that surprised many when made by President Xi Jinping in September. Climate scientists agree that reductions must be enacted quickly if we are to limit global mean temperature increase to the target of 2°C above pre-industrial levels agreed by most countries and codified in the 2015 Paris Agreement. China’s carbon neutrality pledge is significant; it is currently the world’s largest carbon emitter, responsible for about 28 per cent of the global total.

Is China moving fast enough?

Critics of China’s broad carbon reduction efforts say its plan starts too slowly, leaves big reductions to future generations, and that the ETS delay is emblematic of the country’s climate mitigation that is insufficient at its core. Others observe that China’s recent moves to expand the implementation of cleaner coal technology and to test its ETS in eight regional pilot programs over several years are moves in the right direction. U.S. President-elect Biden has pledged that American electricity production would be carbon-free by 2035, and the economy would be carbon neutral by 2050. And in Canada, the Trudeau government recently introduced legislation that would mandate the federal government to pursue targets and plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Lofty goals all round. Now let’s reduce emissions.