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China going cold on carbon market? Cites Australia and US

Posted By Joanne Nova On March 21, 2014 @ 4:13 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Another day is The Backdown? Everything is more important than carbon action these days. In China, real pollution is trumping the fake kind. China has been toying with carbon markets, but this month announced they might have to back away. (The shame!)

[Reuters]  “…the all-out efforts to combat China’s disastrous pollution levels might get in the way of plans to tax carbon dioxide emissions in a bid to stunt the rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions, Zhu Guangyao, the vice environment minister, said.

“We have to reflect the requests of the majority through many consultation rounds,” he told the Beijing Morning Post from the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary sessions.

A carbon tax is increasingly controversial among lawmakers, said Zhu, adding that an environment tax would be easier to push through without carbon in the mix.

Zhu also referred to the fact that Australia, under a new conservative government, is trying to abolish its carbon tax, while a price on carbon has been blocked in the United States.”

China’s carbon markets were never serious anyway –  the glorious plan was to launch seven pilot trading schemes –  and each new market was an excuse for environmental activists to issue press releases and proclaim “success” and “momentum”. It was all about the number of new markets opening (not the number of degrees the world would cool).  In reality, even these pilot schemes were a pile of tokens (so to speak) — most of the credits were given out for free. The fines for non-compliance were minimal. It almost looks like it was designed with PR in mind?

I’m pleased to see they have noticed the general direction of the Australian Carbon Market (and the oath to axe it). Julia Gillard wanted us to be leaders. What can I say?

Getting back to the real world, smog matters to the citizens of China (not CO2) and interestingly the rise of social media is giving them a voice (at least according to the RTCC — Responding to Climate Change, site):

[RTTC] China’s growing  middle class is venting its anger about worsening pollution on social media, meaning the government is looking for fast results.

“For central government air quality has taken prominence over climate policy,” said Thomas Wyns, a Brussels-based expert on emissions trading with environmental groups.

Even within China a scheme that isn’t national just shifts pollution. The irony. Just as the West curtailed production and shifted factories to China (and elsewhere). The Chinese worry that the same process will  also occur again within China where local schemes punish local businesses, and the businesses shift to a different province with more business friendly taxes.

Only a national carbon trading scheme and an ambitious cap on emissions would prevent the shifting of emissions away from crowded, relatively prosperous coastal regions to the coal-rich interior, Zhang, an advisor to China’s State Council told RTCC.

It’s a mixed message though:

China tells firms to start reporting carbon emissions

[Business Spectator] Thousands of companies across China must start reporting their greenhouse gas emissions under a government plan to build a nationwide emissions database ahead of launching a national carbon market.

How serious was China? It didnt even have the data on emissions to start with.

h.t To Eric

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