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Surprising Science

China Sets CO2 Emissions Limits

China is continuing to take strong action to avert climate change by making its economy more efficient. The country's carbon emissions will soon be linked to its GDP growth.

What’s the Latest Development?

China’s central government in Beijing will soon require seven provinces and cities to cap their carbon dioxide emissions. The cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen, and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong have been directed to set ‘overall emissions control targets’. The experiment will help China achieve a goal outlined in its current five-year plan of ‘reducing the carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP by 17 per cent by 2015.’ China’s emissions are due to peak in the 2020s or 2030s.

What’s the Big Idea?

The decision to set carbon caps is the first step toward creating a national carbon market for China, which will perhaps encourage the creation of a global carbon trading scheme. By setting overall emissions targets and assigning allowance permits accordingly, companies who produce less CO2 can sell their permits to larger emitters, making an overall reduction in emissions more efficient. “It’s the first time the Chinese government has called for any absolute caps on emissions, having so far preferred softer ‘carbon intensity’ targets.”

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