BEIJING Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. consultancy ICF International has won a 5-million euro ($6.8 mln) contract to help the European Union advise China, the world's biggest carbon-emitting nation, on designing a national emissions trading scheme (ETS).
ICF fought off competition from other carbon advisory firms eager to get involved in designing what is likely to be the world's biggest emissions market, worth billions of dollars, when it launches before the end of the decade.
Since last June, five cities and provinces in China have started local emissions markets, making the country the world's No.2 carbon trading hub after Europe.
But it faces technical as well as political challenges in drawing up a national scheme that will encompass both the modern megacities on the east coast and the underdeveloped regions in the west, and has sought expertise from Europe, which has operated its own market since 2005.
China has pledged to cut emissions per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 to limit its contribution to climate change and boost domestic energy security.
The EU project is one of several offering assistance to China in designing a nationwide carbon market. The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are funding other initiatives. (Reporting by Stian Reklev; Editing by Joseph Radford)