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October 2nd, 2008:

Mainland Firms To Increase Emission Reduction Projects – Future Of Carbon Credit Trade Dim As Global Pact Nears End

SCMP, Eric Ng – Oct 02, 2008

The mainland is expected to supply more than half the credits for greenhouse-gas emission trading worldwide until 2012, but the future of such trade remains uncertain as no agreement has been hammered out for when the current global pact expires.

Emission reduction projects on the mainland would cut 116.83 million tonnes of carbon dioxide discharged in each of the next four years, or 52.17 per cent of the global total, according to United Nations data. That represents a sharp increase from 16.61 million tonnes in May 2006, or 30.67 per cent of the global total.

So far, 1,551 projects have been approved by Beijing while 269 projects have also been accepted by and registered at the UN, accounting for 23 per cent of the global total.

Developers of pollution-cutting projects earn so-called carbon credits that can be sold to polluters in countries with mandatory emission limits, primarily in Europe and Japan, which are committed to reduction targets.

Annual greenhouse-gas emission credits from the mainland would amount to more than US$2.5 billion under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), according to a report by World Wide Fund for Nature on China’s emission reduction credits market.

Beijing also collects a levy from a percentage of the credits depending on the type of project.

Feng Shengbo, an associate researcher at National Development and Reform Commission Energy Research Institute’s CDM Project Management Centre, said the government had so far collected more than 100 million yuan (HK$112.48 million), which would be used to help the nation combat climate change.

The most popular projects on the mainland include the replacement of ozone-depleting refrigerants, wind and hydro power generation and energy efficiency improvement.

Of the emission reduction volume in projects approved by the central government, about 23 per cent or 27.45 million tonnes came from the five national state-owned power generation firms.

China and India are among the developing nations that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, a global pact on greenhouse gas reduction, but they are only required to report their emissions and are not committed to any targets.

The United States rejects emission limits set by protocol, but it is widely expected the country, together with China and India, which are among the world’s largest polluters, will commit to some form of reduction after the protocol expires in 2012.

However, Merrill Lynch director of Asia-Pacific commodities solutions Jennifer Jiang Hongbo said uncertainties over the regulatory environment after the protocol expired and Beijing’s ban on credit sales beyond that meant no such credits had been sold so far.

“This has brought valuation challenges for such trade,” she said. “In addition, the sellers prefer to save the credits for themselves ahead of potential emission reduction commitments by China.”