Beijing — China’s long-awaited national carbon emission trading scheme (ETS) made its debut on Friday with 4.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide quotas worth 210 million yuan ($32 million) changing hands, Shanghai Securities News reported.
It is the largest carbon market in the world by volume with more than 2000 power plants, responsible for more than 4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, included in the first phase of trading.
The price closed at 51.23 yuan ($7.92) per tonne in its first day of trade, up 6.7%.
The establishment of the scheme was first pledged by President Xi Jinping ahead of the signing of the Paris climate accord at the end of 2015.
There was a “soft launch” in late 2017, but no transactions took place, and plans for a full launch were put back several times.
“China has reached an important milestone in its progress on climate action, putting the last puzzle piece in place for the largest carbon market in the world,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, an international nonprofit organization.
The opening price of 48 yuan a tonne above the average price 40 yuan traded at seven pilot markets that began trading since 2011, but well below the average of about 50 euros ($59.02) on the European Union’s ETS.
China’s central government is working with industrial associations to collect data from the steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and other sectors with the aim of expanding carbon trading.
Delays to opening the ETS partly stemmed from concerns over the accuracy and transparency of emission data.
($1 = 6.4706 Chinese yuan renminbi)
($1 = 0.8472 euros)