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Why Has China not Embraced a Global Cap-and-Trade Regime?

Zhang, ZhongXiang (2003): Why Has China not Embraced a Global Cap-and-Trade Regime?

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Abstract

Many economic studies suggest that China would reap significant benefits from participating in a global cap-and-trade regime. The question then is that even if such a regime is so beneficial to China, why China has consistently refused in international negotiations even to discuss its participation in it. In this paper, we look at this issue from the following perspectives: a) from the point of view of fairness, how do developing countries including China and India perceive emissions caps in the first place?; b) why have China and India been sceptical to international emissions trading?; c) how is an inflow of CDM investment in China perceived politically in comparison with the exports of emissions permits to the U.S.?; d) what are the implications of “lock in” to emissions cap, in particular no rules and principles for setting emissions targets for the commitment periods subsequent to Kyoto?; e) how to address the complex undertaking of setting emissions caps for developing countries, which must be linked to future, unobserved levels in comparison with the historically observed levels for industrialized countries?. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to analyse why China has not embraced an international greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, thus pointing out efforts/directions towards getting the country into such a scheme. Thus, the paper is of significant policy relevance.

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