China tries carbon trading experiment


China, the world’s biggest polluter, was on the brink of launching its first carbon trading system Tuesday, local media said.

A platform allowing businesses in the southern city of Shenzhen to trade permits to emit carbon was established Sunday, with trading due to start Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China plans to open similar programs in seven areas before 2014, in what “is the first step toward a national carbon trading system,” according to Li Yan, head of Greenpeace’s climate and energy campaign in China.

However, analysts have said that the system, which covers just 38 percent of Shenzhen’s emissions, is unlikely to produce significant reductions in overall emissions.

“It only covers less than half of the city’s emissions, so the effectiveness in terms of carbon cuts needs to be seen,” Li said. “To me the pilot is necessary homework to get the county prepared on capability to manage carbon (emissions).”

Because of its reliance on coal and heavy industry, China has emerged as the top producer of climate-changing carbon emissions, ahead of the U.S., although its per capita emissions remain far below those of Americans. China has no targets to reduce absolute carbon emissions and officials have said they will continue to rise until around 2030.

Under the carbon trading system, companies will be assigned an emissions quota and will be able to profit from selling excess permits to other businesses if they emit less than their quota.