AUSTRALIA'S proposed emissions trading scheme has won praise from Beijing, where it will be the model for one of six Chinese pilot schemes to be introduced in 2013.
Jiang Kejun, head of the Chinese government's energy and
environmental policy agency, said pilot carbon trading schemes currently being
researched would trial different designs based on schemes from Australia,
Europe and California.
''So far we don't have a good idea what kind of model for
emissions trading to implement in China, so they will take the six provinces
and try different ways,'' he told The Age in Melbourne yesterday.
''Some say what is happening in Australia is even better
[scheme design] than in Europe, so in that sense Australia is leading.''
Dr Kejun spoke yesterday at a Victoria University climate
change conference, having been brought to Australia by the government's Climate
Commission as the first of six international guests to report on steps overseas
to reduce emissions. His visit came as miner Rio Tinto intensified its
opposition to Australia's carbon pricing scheme, urging Prime Minister Julia
Gillard to start again on carbon policy.
Rio Tinto's Australian general manager David Peever said
the government had not adapted to international changes since the failed
Copenhagen climate talks of 2009, saying ''There must be, and is, a better way
for Australia to make its contribution.''
The government will introduce legislation on Tuesday for
a fixed carbon tax to start next year, evolving into an emissions trading
scheme in 2015.
Dr Kejun - from the National Development and Reform
Commission's Energy Research Institute and a lead author with the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - gave evidence that China's
emissions were increasing at an extraordinary rate, and that Beijing's
five-year economic plan included a framework aimed at slowing and eventually
halting the growth. China's emissions have nearly tripled since 2000 as the
developing country experienced an unprecedented period of economic growth. Some
estimates suggest China may emit up to 30-40 per cent more carbon dioxide than
the US, the world's second largest emitter.
In response it was piloting emissions trading schemes in
six provinces and cities. Each area would test a different design, varying in
the size of the emissions limit imposed on business and the way in which
emissions levels were monitored and verified. Dr Kejun said it was unlikely
China would move from pilot programs to a full national trading scheme by 2015
as some analysts had speculated. He said China's emissions level could peak by
2025 - earlier than government modelling suggestions that it would continue to
rise until 2030.
The five-year plan released this year includes a
commitment to limit national energy consumption by 2015, and targets to cut
national energy intensity and carbon intensity.
Other targets include 11.4 per cent of energy coming from
non-fossil fuel sources and increasing forest area by 12.5 million hectares. A
carbon tax is being considered.
The wind energy industry was projected to top 150
gigawatts capacity by 2020, up from earlier projections of 30 gigawatts. But
China also continues to build dozens of coal plants a year, partly because it
is replacing small, inefficient plants. Dr Kejun said the combination of an
energy consumption cap and a renewable energy target added up to ''almost a
carbon dioxide cap''.
**With PETER KER