Talk begins on Asia-Pacific carbon trading system

Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Australia could soon join China, Korea, New Zealand, California and parts of Canada in an Asia-Pacific carbon trading system.

Mr Combet travelled to Beijing in April to see how China’s pilot carbon trading schemes will work in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Hubei and Guangdong. From there, he travelled to South Korea where carbon trading legislation was being tabled before parliament.

From Beijing, Mr Combet said a unified carbon trading scheme would eventually remove any competitive disadvantage for any one country involved.

“Australia and New Zealand have got emissions trading schemes, California has got one, provinces in Canada are introducing emissions trading, Korea is introducing emissions trading. There are these pilot schemes being generated within China,” Mr Combet said.

“In the Asia Pacific region there is scope in the years to come for us to develop quite an integrated approach to tackling climate change, and to having emissions trading arrangements that are linked and a common carbon market,” he said.

“A common carbon price could evolve from that between our economies, which removes any issue of competitive disadvantage. And this is why I’m putting effort into this particular issue in China and Korea at the moment.”

Aside from the pilot trading schemes, China also has a suite of other carbon reduction methods in place, including plans to tax heavy polluting companies for their emissions. A price per tonne of carbon dioxide has not yet been confirmed, but the government has committed to reducing the country’s carbon output per unit of GDP by 17 per cent before the end of 2015 and by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020.

“You cannot overlook the fact that there’s been a carbon price in European economies for years,” Mr Combet said. “There’s carbon prices effectively in many economies. There are carbon prices in China’s economy, by virtue of the different policy mechanisms it has pursued. It’s got feed-in tariffs, it’s got taxes on high emissions areas of industry. There are effective carbon prices in the US economy as well.”