China has long been perceived as a laggard on climate action, and used as scapegoat by other countries, like Australia, to delay action. But this argument is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to make given China’s recent policies. China will soon have the world’s second largest carbon trading scheme and is aggressively pursuing other climate and clean energy policies. These are key findings outlined in a report commissioned by The Climate Institute from Climate Bridge, a multi-national project developer with years of experience in emission reduction projects in China (here, pdf).

Alex Wyatt, CEO of Climate Bridge, said: “Reducing emissions in China is critical to preventing global climate change, so it is extremely encouraging to witness the Chinese authorities setting such ambitious policies. Indeed, China’s pilot emissions trading schemes will cover nearly twice the emissions of Australia’s scheme in 2014. Business and politicians that assume inaction from China are taking a huge gamble on a high carbon status quo.”

The report finds that emissions trading schemes are set to play an important part in the next phase of China’s climate change policy. China’s ambitious pilot schemes will already represent the world’s second largest emission trading schemes and are expected to lead to a nationwide system in 2015-2016.

“China in the last five years has very consciously moved to slow the rate of its greenhouse gas emission growth by curbing its energy intensity, becoming a world leader in renewable energy, and most recently establishing carbon trading systems in its largest provinces,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. 

“These actions are driven by self-interest, not only regarding concern for climate impacts, but for strengthening energy security, developing a low carbon economy with export opportunities and showing international leadership.”

China’s seven pilot emissions trading schemes will be launched in 2013-14. Though covering a fraction of China’s total emissions, these pilots are expected to cover 700 million tonnes of CO2e by 2014, compared with 382 million tonnes in Australia, 165 million tonnes in California and 2.1 billion tonnes in Europe. 

(Source: The Climate Instiute)