The role of China's ETS in power sector decarbonisation

The People’s Republic of China (“China”) officially launched its national emissions trading system (ETS) in 2017, and it will come into operation in 2021. Initially covering the power sector, which accounts for over 40% of China’s energy-related CO2 emissions, the ETS is set to subsequently be expanded to other energy-intensive sectors. China’s national ETS could be an important market-based instrument to help the country meet its recently enhanced climate goals to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This report explores how China’s ETS can spur emissions reductions from electricity generation and support power sector transformation. It builds on understanding of power sector development and policy trends and relies on in-depth national and provincial scenario modelling of China’s power system from 2020 to 2035. This study also analyses how the ETS’s output- and rate-based design affects overall power sector emissions, technologies and costs, and regional distribution. Finally, it recommends ways China’s ETS can play a stronger role in incentivising cost-effective and structural power sector decarbonisation to support the country’s long-term climate ambitions.

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