China Stepped Up its Climate Leadership

China has stepped up its climate leadership and launched the world’s biggest ever mechanism to reduce carbon, in the form of an emissions trading system. Under the trading system, power plants will be issued with allowances to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide. China’s power sector is responsible for about 3.3billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually, making this potentially one of the world’s most important mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gases.

The carbon emissions trading system that will become the world’s largest and most consequential environmental program, fulfilling a commitment of President Xi Jinping and setting up China to meet or even exceed its commitment to the Paris climate agreement. When the first phase of the system is fully implemented, it’s expected to cover 3.5 billion metric tons of carbon pollution from more than 1,700 companies in the power sector. That is roughly 39 percent of China’s total emissions, making it the largest carbon market in the world, according to the Environmental Defense Fund

Launching the carbon emission trading scheme is a major step in the world’s No. 2 economy’s efforts to meet commitments to combat global warming. China, the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases, is aiming to raise the share of non-fossil fuels to 20 percent of its total energy mix by 2020 from 13 percent in 2016. As part of the Paris Agreement in December 2015 it pledged to cap carbon emissions at a peak by around 2030.

“With the top global polluter enacting policies to support the Paris Agreement and transition to a low carbon economy, it is clear that we’re at a tipping point in the climate crisis,” said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.