Hong Kong would be welcome to participate in China’s national emissions trading scheme when it opens next year as the city’s sophisticated financial sector would benefit the market, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change, said Wednesday.
Xie made the comment at a conference in the former British colony, where he said the mainland should learn from the city’s experience in energy saving, environmental protection, and low carbon development, China News reported.
The relationship between China and Hong Kong is guided by the “one country, two systems” principle, which allows Hong Kong to have its own political system, legal, economic and financial affairs to govern its population of over 7 million.
Xie added that Beijing would continue to support Hong Kong in tackling climate change, and that a platform would be built to allow the two to cooperate in studying how to build emissions inventories, develop clean technologies, and develop city planning.
The carbon exchanges in Guangzhou and Shenzhen have long attempted to attract interest from Hong Kong in their pilot emissions trading schemes, but appetite from the city has remained low.
Last month, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying set out his policy vision for this year, including setting a new target of reducing the city’s energy intensity by 40% by 2025. Carbon pricing, however, was not mentioned.
China’s emissions trading scheme will impose carbon caps on around 10,000 companies when it launches next year, regulating 3-4 billion tonnes of CO2, which will make it by far the world’s biggest carbon market in terms of tonnes covered.
An annual update on the status of China’s carbon market released Tuesday said that trading activity so far in the nation’s seven pilot programmes indicate that Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai will be the financial hubs dominating the national ETS.
But Hong Kong would have an edge in the market if it decided to join, Xie said.
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org