At a White House summit meeting with President Obama, on Friday, September 23, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced that his country, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases will launch the world’s largest carbon trading system.
The national cap and trade program is scheduled to come online by 2017. It will be based on seven regional pilot programs already operating in China. The carbon trading initiative will reduce emissions from major industries, including steel, cement, paper and electric power. The system will also help expand investments in China’s already considerable renewable energy market.
China is now among a number of countries, including several in Asia, that have imposed carbon trading programs. President Obama is green with envy as he has failed to implement such a system in the US. Despite the President’s support for carbon trading, he has been stymied by Republican obstructionism. The Chinese announcement shows what can be accomplished in a state managed economy and points to a glaring weakness in efforts to advance climate action in the US.
The US and China have forged climate agreements and both leaders are working together on ambitious efforts to pressure other nations to do the same. Under the terms of a previous agreement China will reduce its coal use and the US has made emissions reductions pledges of 28 percent by 2025. China agreed that its emissions will peak around 2030 and the country has indicated that it will derive one-fifth of its power from non-fossil-fuel energy sources.
China has also pledged to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change. Although China will not contribute to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) like other countries including the US which has already committed $3 billion to the GCF. Both the US and China have adopted a common system for monitoring and reporting of GHGs and both countries have agreed on heavy duty vehicle standards and building efficiency standards.
This meaningful cooperation between the world’s top two emitters of GHGs is particularly important as we head towards COP21 in Paris where it is hoped the world will finally come together to sign a global agreement on climate change.