August 5, 2021

China launches pollute rights trading system

After years of preparation and seven pilot projects, China on Friday (July 16) launched a system of CO emissions credits2 on a national level. This pollution rights exchange is presented as one of the means chosen by the country, which emits about a quarter of the CO2 of the planet, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, the objective to which it has committed.

The system currently only concerns the energy sector, i.e. around 40% of CO emissions.2 Chinese, but already twice as carbon as the European system, which has been in operation since 2003. However, it should not have a major impact in the short term, because the emission quotas allocated to Chinese energy producers are particularly generous, hence a low price per tonne of carbon.

First exchanges

A small step forward, the result of a compromise between the Chinese Ministry of the Environment, in charge of the project, and the powerful industrial lobbies, while China continues to rely on industry to ensure its economic growth.

The first transaction fixed at 52.78 yuan (6.90 euros) per tonne of carbon. A low price compared to Europe

On Wednesday July 14, Deputy Environment Minister Zhao Yingming described the system as a “Tool to help the country achieve its objectives of reaching the peak of its emissions before 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2060”. The quotas allocated to power stations by the provincial authorities allow companies that want to emit more to buy rights to pollute from those that emit less. The first exchanges took place Friday morning at 9:30 am on the Shanghai Environment and Energy Stock Exchange, created for this purpose, according to a press release released by the New China agency. The first transaction fixed at 52.78 yuan (6.90 euros) per tonne of carbon. A low price compared to Europe, where the tonne of CO2 trades at 54 euros, and in California, where it costs the equivalent of 14 euros.

“It should be remembered that the price per tonne of carbon in Europe was close to the Chinese level until 2017, after twelve years of operation, nuance Huw Slater, specialist in the energy sector in China for ICF, a consulting firm specializing in the environment. That said, it is a price well below what the experts consider necessary to reach the commitments of the Paris agreement, between 40 and 80 dollars per tonne ”, he adds.

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