Full launch for China nationwide carbon market now seen early 2018: govt researcher

Birds fly across the sky on a polluted day in Wuhan, Hubei province, February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s nationwide carbon trading market likely won’t be in full swing until early next year, an official at a government think tank said on Thursday, a schedule that would mean a delayed start to trading in a program originally expected to launch in first-half 2017.

“According to the State Council, the market should launch in 2017-2018,” said Wang Zhongying, deputy director general at the National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute, speaking at a seminar.

“Probably there will be some moves by the end of this year, but I guess it won’t be until early next year that there will be some real movements,” said Wang.

China, the world’s biggest emitter of climate-warming greenhouse gases, has launched seven pilot regional trading schemes and promised to create a national exchange as part of its pledges ahead of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

But the national program has run into complications due to unreliable data and other regulatory problems.

The long-awaited carbon trading market was originally scheduled to cover eight industrial sectors, including iron and steel, petrochemicals, chemicals and paper-making.

But one researcher with direct knowledge of the launch of carbon market warned the first stage of the project may only cover the electricity industry.

“It is difficult to advance the scheme considering the data problem and disagreement between enterprises and authorities,” said the researcher, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with media.

Reporting by Josephine Mason and Muyu Xu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kenneth Maxwell