China Even Beats US to Cap and Trade, Due to Republican Opposition to Climate Legislation

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The same day that the US Senate gave up on cap and trade climate legislation that would make polluters pay for the switch to clean energy, because not even one Republican will vote for it, news comes that China has just beaten us to implementing their own cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gases.

The decision came on Wednesday, at a meeting attended – not by industry lobbyists as here in this unfortunate plutocracy – but as China Daily reports, by climate policy think tanks, government officials, and environmental organizations.


China’s enormous stimulus spending on green energy has already resulted in more green tech investment coming to the nation than in the US and Europe combined, but now the communist nation has also beaten us at our own game: capitalism. Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

Rather than using a top-down regulatory approach to reducing pollution, cap and trade is how free enterprise capitalist nations have traditionally worked to reduce emissions.  From the closing the Ozone hole to ending acid rain, to the European Trading Scheme (providing Europeans with not just more fuel efficient cars and homes,  but entire industries), cap and trade has traditionally been the way the market worked in the past to reduce carbon pollution – by putting a price on it.

In Europe it has succeeded. The paper industry there reduced carbon emissions 42% below Kyoto goals. But not one Republican in the Senate now could be found to support it here.

At Wednesday’s meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country planned how to start its domestic carbon trading program in January 2011, as part of its plan to reduce emissions by 2020.

These carbon reductions are self-imposed by the plan. Since, way back when Kyoto was signed by Europe, China was a “developing country” , China does not legally have to shoulder binding responsibilities to reduce carbon emissions. But it is moving ahead to do so on its own, in anticipation that by the time the world passes the successor treaty to Kyoto, it will not be classed among “developing” but among developed countries.

The meeting consensus was that there needed to be domestic carbon-trading. China has so far implemented top-down decisions, such as requiring utilities to buy any and all renewable power put on the grid, but with rising domestic energy demand, the attendees agreed that administrative measures (as here, taxpayer funded) were too expensive for the long haul, necessitating the move to a cap and trade program where, instead of the taxpayer, the polluter pays.

“The market-based carbon-trading schemes will be a cost-effective supplement to administrative means,” said Yu Jie, an independent policy observer who previously worked for several international climate-related institutes.

Related stories:

5 Good Things Cap and Trade Has Done For You

Cap and Trade Cut Emissions 50% in 20 Years

China Now Spends $9 Billion a Month on Renewable Energy

Susan Kraemer @Twitter

Source: China Daily

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