China and Climate Change

China’s Sub-national Carbon Trading Pilot Programs
In October 2011, China announced its intention to establish seven pilot carbon trading systems in five municipalities and two provinces across the country. On June 19, 2014, the seventh of these pilots was launched in the city of Chongqing. The pilots cover between 35 to 60 percent of emissions within their respective jurisdictions. Each operates under its own rules tailored to regional or local circumstances.
The sub-national pilots reflect China’s growing interest in the use of market-based instruments – and emissions trading in particular – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The experience gained through these pilot programs is developing familiarity with emissions trading among companies and regulators in large portions of China, and will inform the design of any future national carbon market.


Energy and Climate Goals of China's 12th Five-Year Plan

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The 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) adopted by the Chinese government in March 2011 devotes considerable attention to energy and climate change and establishes a new set of targets and policies for 2011-2015.  While some of the targets are largely in line with the status quo, other aspects of the plan represent more dramatic moves to reduce fossil energy consumption, promote low-carbon energy sources, and restructure China’s economy.  Among the goals is to "gradually establish a carbon trade market."  Key targets include:

  • A 16 percent reduction in energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP);
  • Increasing non-fossil energy to 11.4 percent of total energy use; and
  • A 17 percent reduction in carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP).


C2ES Report: Market-Based Climate Mitigation Policies in Emerging Economies

Used by governments for decades, market-based policies are mechanisms to control environmental pollution at various leverage points. This brief provides an overview of market-based policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions in several major emerging economies: Brazil, China, India, South Africa and South Korea. By implementing regulatory and market-based policy instruments across their economies, these countries are seeking to promote cleaner technologies and behavior change while also promoting economic development and growth.    


U.S.-China Workshop: Domestic MRV of Climate Efforts
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This workshop focused on domestic monitoring and evaluation of mitigation-related efforts, and on the role of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) in effective emissions markets, drawing in both areas on domestic experiences in the United States and China.


Beijing Workshop on Reporting Practices Related to Climate Change and Other International Challenges
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The workshop focused on four topics: domestic MRV of mitigation efforts in China and the United States; MRV of support; reporting and review processes in other multilateral regimes such as the WTO, the IMF, and the Montreal Protocol; and lessons for international MRV of climate action.


Coal in China: Resources, Uses, and Advanced Coal Technologies
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China’s energy-development pathway has increasingly become a topic of international attention, particularly as China has become the largest national source of annual greenhouse gas emissions. At the forefront of this pathway is a reliance on coal that has spanned many decades. In a world faced with increasing environmental pressures, China must develop ways to utilize coal more efficiently and more cleanly. Its ability to do so will be crucial for its domestic energy security, for its local environment and the well-being of its population, and for the future of the global climate.


Common Challenge, Collaborative Response: A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change 
Learn more about the roadmap.

A new report released by the Center and the Asia Society outlines a roadmap for a more comprehensive program of U.S.-China collaboration on energy and climate change.  The report was produced in partnership between the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations, in collaboration with The Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and Environmental Defense Fund.

A related article by Eileen Claussen discusses the importance of a U.S.-China partnership on climate change.  


Climate Change Mitigation Measures in China
Read the China Fact Sheet.

China is now the world’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, and its emissions are increasing rapidly with economic growth and rising energy demand. The United States remains the largest historic GHG emitter. China's emissions have grown by about 80% since 1990, driven heavily by increased consumption of electricity generated from coal.

As total emissions have grown, China has significantly reduced its emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP). China’s per capita emissions are below the world average and about one-fifth those of the United States.


China Releases Climate Change Plan
Read China's National Climate Change Programme

On June 4, 2007, China released its first national climate change plan. Prepared by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the plan outlines China’s strategy for addressing climate change through national programs aimed at mitigation, adaptation, science and technology research, and increasing public awareness.

Read Eileen Claussen's Statement