Chapter 5: Cap or tax? Exploring the potential for a carbon tax or emissions trading in China
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China is often blamed for slowing down or even obstructing progress in global climate negotiations, as was shown in the Conference of the Parties (COP) 15 in Copenhagen in December 2009 (Lütken 2010). Most developing and emerging economies find it hard to accept an absolute target for their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, viewing it as a potential restriction of their economic development (Cooper 2008). However this observation does not imply that China is not taking any action with regard to climate change mitigation. On the contrary, China has initiated many ambitious policies, such as technology mandates and small-plant shut-down policies in the power sector; vehicle emissions standards; a 1000-firm energy saving programme in the 11th Five-Year Plan and now a 10 000-firm energy saving programme for the 12th Five-Year Plan; feed-in-tariffs and renewable quotas to support renewable energy technologies. Most of the recent policies are command-and-control policies. However, domestically, the instrument choice debate to curb GHG emissions is very lively. As in other countries or regions, the debate largely comes down to the choice between two market-based policy instruments: a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.

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