New trade arrangement incentivizes power operators to be more energy-efficient.
On January 1, 2021, the long-awaited China Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) commenced operation, with 2,225 coal-fired power plants participating. Under this new ETS, China’s power operators will have to buy emissions permits if their coal plant exceeds carbon intensity benchmarks, giving power operators an incentive to improve efficiency. Since 2011, China has developed pilot emissions trading platforms in nine cities and provinces, paving the way for a national trading scheme that was first announced in 2017, along with an emissions trading market development plan for the power generation sector. After almost four years of development, the first annual compliance cycle officially began on January 1. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has published several policy documents on the national ETS that establish regulatory authority and specify general rules for key areas of market operation and design, including the Carbon Emissions Rights Trading Regulations (Trial), which was published in November 2020.