News / Asia

Despite Pollution Worries, China Experiments with Carbon Trading

Shannon Van Sant
As China scrambles to respond to the choking smog that has blanketed Beijing in recent weeks, authorities in several major cities are experimenting with carbon trading platforms. The schemes are one effort to get control over greenhouse gases in an economy still hungry for cheap energy.

Beijing’s smoggy days are literally off the charts, with small airborne particles that reduce visibility and threaten health.

It has been a persistent concern in recent years, but spiking pollution levels in January are sparking a public outcry.

Emissions from coal-fired electricity plants and busy factories are part of the problem that officials hope to get control over through carbon trading platforms.

Seven cities are expected to open carbon markets later this year, including Tianjin. 

“The government has decided to start with pilots [programs] because the carbon trading is something new to China," said David Tang, secretary of the board of the Tianjin Carbon Exchange.  "So we want to have a number of pilots to explore the use of the market.  And, on the basis of the experience gained create a national market for this instrument,” said Tang.

China wants to launch a national carbon trading program by 2016.  If it is successful, analysts say, the program would be one of the largest in the world and would help the country meet its target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent, within seven years.  

The platforms allow companies to earn credits for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, which can then be traded.  If it works, it would encourage for-profit businesses to invest in green technology.    

Kevin Tu is senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and head of the China Energy and Climate Program.

“They need to do more to replace coal use by other types of energy carriers, such as nuclear, hydro, national gas," he added. "And, in the longer future, renewable should be the way for the country to move forward in energy development.”

Although carbon trading in the country’s booming economy could be a windfall for the still-struggling global emissions markets, critics say government intervention, state ownership of companies and lack of transparency pose big hurdles to its success.

As public concern builds pressure for the government to find a solution, Wu Changhua, greater China director of the Climate Group, says there is a broad shift under way in how Chinese weigh their quality of life.

“The public basically started to realize it's not jobs, I want to have better environment quality there as well,” he said.

China has long put economic growth ahead of environmental concerns, making it the world’s biggest polluter. Carbon trading supporters hope that the markets could be one way to curb pollution and keep the economy growing.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, canada
February 06, 2013 5:41 PM
Carbon trading is a fantasy, dreamed out by financial people, to make sure they have more parasitic jobs. The sources of pollution must be dealt at the product design and at the production facilities, to ensure clean inputs are used, and production processes actually capture all the pollutants, before they are allowed to exist the production processes; and I am not just talking about machinery producers. The other aspect is to re-forest/regreen all the areas that do not have appropriate forests/shrubbs, to capture CO2 and increase the production of O2. Carbon trading is the new scheme for continuing to pollute the globe....
In Response

by: Tmissions from: Tibetan spiritual
February 09, 2013 9:01 AM
Tibetan spiritual : advocating the truth , and the consummation of wisdom, a satisfactory compassion

. Unyielding from power and repression from slavery , indomitable , unyielding new militarism .

by: HIroshi Nishida from: Osaka, Japan
February 03, 2013 6:32 AM
A headache problem: toxic particles coming from China.

Severe air pollution in China is famous in the international community. However, this is not mere Chinese domestic problem. The toxic particles which caused death of Chinese people are coming from the continent to Japan. Air pollution in China is due to the aggressive policy to develop the Chinese economy. Furthermore, ineffective and sloppy regulations worsen the situation. In the past, Japan had the trouble of the same problems, but there were a few technological solutions for the environmental pollution. Therefore, it took a long time to overcome those obstacles. However, theses days, various excellent and effective technologies have been available. Hence, developing nations are now under an idealistic condition to tackle the problems of environmental pollution compared to the situation in Japan facing forty years ago.

It is indifference of Chinese government that cause today’s serious air pollution containing hazardous particles, which are drifting toward Japanese territory. We strongly propose the sincere attitude of the Chinese government to apply effective measures against exportation of toxic particles.


Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs