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September 28, 2015

China Commits To A Nationwide Cap And Trade System, But Will It Work?

Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled to Washington, DC last week to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss several issues, including each country’s effort to improve the environment. While he did not release details of his plan, President Xi said his country would implement a cap and trade system by 2017. According to The New York Times, the plan “would cover power, iron and steel, chemicals, building materials, papermaking and nonferrous metals” but leave out the transportation sector. 

While the announcement was positively received, The Times also noted that implementing the new system would pose “challenges” for China. Natural Resources Defense Council senior adviser on energy and climate change policy, who is based in Beijing, said it would “be a heavy burden having all this ready in time for 2017” because China is “not even sure just how much energy” it consumes so how can it “go ahead with trading?” Other news outlets were also skeptical. Vox contributor Brad Plumer asked whether China’s plans would “actually work as intended, noting, “It’s not so easy to curtail emissions in a country as sprawling and as coal-dependent as China.” 

 Both outlets also reminded readers that regional cap and trade plans implemented by the Chinese government have produced limited results.