The world’s biggest carbon market coming soon

China green eco flagA few weeks ago a I wrote a piece about the city of Beijing banning coal-fired electricity by the year 2020. Although this is a great step for a single city, it was only a very small step of marathon journey China would have to take to clean up its act as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The good news it hasn’t taken long for China’s next step – which is mammoth in comparison – to become global news. For those interested I highly recommend reading this article by Reuters. Here are the opening paragraphs to wet your appetite:

China plans to roll out its national market for carbon permit trading in 2016, an official said Sunday, adding that the government is close to finalising rules for what will be the world’s biggest emissions trading scheme.

The world’s biggest-emitting nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, plans to use the market to slow its rapid growth in climate-changing emissions.

China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

News that is good, not great.

Coal power plantIf your Facebook and Twitter accounts are anything like mine, you will have jumped for joy in recent weeks after seeing headlines announcing that Beijing has banned coal-fired power plants by 2020.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration China consumes and produces roughly half the world’s coal. China’s hunger for coal is driven by it’s massive manufacturing industry which requires vast amounts of energy. It’s not surprising that China produces more greenhouse gasses than any other country on Earth.

Given China’s enormous use of coal the news of Beijing’s decision was welcomed by me, and I celebrated that the world’s use of coal was about to plummet. However, I should have done my due diligence and read past the headlines – it is Beijing that is banning the use of coal, not China. Beijing will close down coal-fired power plants in its 6 main districts, which produce 0.5% of China’s energy needs.

Although this is no where near as great as I first assumed, it is still good news. As the proverb says “a waterfall begins with just one drop”, and Beijing is the capital of China so hopefully this just the first step of many that China makes to decarbonising its society.