Tianjin looks set to become the first of China’s designated carbon trading exchanges to be up and running in an organized way, according to a Financial Times report. The Tianjin Climate Exchange, a joint venture between the Chicago Climate Exchange, PetroChina and Tianjin’s municipal government, expects to start trading within the year.
The China Beijing Environmental Exchange and the Shanghai Environment Energy Exchange are its likely rivals. China doesn’t yet have a regulatory framework for carbon exchanges or even standardized futures contracts. (Beijing’s carbon exchange is partnering with Blue Next, a spot market; while Shanghai is experimenting with credits for local companies.) Nor does China have a national cap on emissions (a Copenhagen climate conference surprise to come?), so participation in any market would have to be voluntary, as it is for the Chicago Climate Exchange.
Cap and trade legislation may be out of favor in the U.S. (or at least politically stalled in a Washington that seems unable to get its head out of its own political sands), but China has a strong incentive to get carbon markets established. It is the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions and if it doesn’t establish its carbon markets quickly it may lose the ability to control global pricing.