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«1. SO2 Emission in China Emissions Concentration 3 (million tons) (mg/m ) Coal burning brings about a 25 0.12 0.1 20 large amount of SO2 0.08 15 0.06 ...»

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Practice on SO2 Emission

Trading in China

Yang Jintian

Chinese Academy for



1. SO2 Emission in China

Emissions Concentration


(million tons) (mg/m )

Coal burning brings about a 25 0.12

0.1 20 large amount of SO2 0.08 15 0.06 10 emission. 0.04 5 0.02 total SO2 emissions: 19.95 – 0 0 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 million tonnes, and 85% were Po wer sect or SO2 emis s ion Nat ion al SO2 e miss ion SO2 co ncentration from direct coal combustion power sector is the major –

source of SO2 emissions:

8.90 million tonnes, account for 45% of total emissions 25

2. Acid rain and Environmental Impacts Acid rain are serious Acid precipitation covers around – 30 percent of the land areas 48.9% of the cities suffer from – acid rain high stack sources contribute an – increasing percentage of emissions

–  –  –

3. Control Policies Identifying Critical Control Zones Limiting the Extraction and Use of High Sulphur Coal Promoting SO2 Total Emission Control Levying SO2 Emission Charges Requiring Cities to Comply with National Ambient Standards for SO2 Concentrations Adjusting the Composition of the Power Sector Encouraging Desulphurisation

–  –  –

Foundations Compatibility of Emission Trading and the TEC Policy – Flexible Approach to Meeting Management – Requirements Conditions Variation of Marginal SO2 Abatement Costs – Regional Problem (Long distance transportation) – Emission Measurement –

–  –  –

5. Emission Trading Pilots Early in the 1980s, China began discussing and piloting emission trading

Pilots in three stages:

(1) 1990 to 1995 – establishing the concept;

(2) 1996 to 2001 – exploring the theory and methods of emission trading; and (3) 2002 to present – piloting and designing emission trading programs.

–  –  –

Feasibility of National Implementation Issues and Barriers Legal Authority – Uniform Allocation Method Uniform Allocation Method – Monitoring and Verification – Coordination with Other Policy Instruments –

7. Proposed framework National SO2 TEC Targets

Proposed Implementation Phases by Experts:

Phase 1: a pilot phase with trading limited to large – power plants (i.e., annual SO2 emissions greater than 5,000 tonnes) in the TCZs;

Phase 2: an expanded pilot with trading between all – power plants in the TCZs on the basis of phase I;

Phase 3: a nationwide program including all power – plants in China; and Phase 4: an expanded nationwide program including – other types of high stack sources.

–  –  –

SO2 TEC in China should be combined with a national emission trading policy to help attain the control target at lower social cost.

After nearly 10 years of analysis and emission trading pilots, several cities and regions have practical experience that provide the necessary foundation for introducing emission trading nationwide.

There are issues and barriers to overcome before implementing a nationwide emission trading program, including legal authority, policy coordination, allocation issues, emission measurement and verification, and supervision and management systems.

9. Suggestions Establish an explicit legal basis for emission trading.

Strengthen measurement and verification of SO2 emissions to improve accuracy.

Design an equitable allocation method that provides proper incentives for sources to take action to reduce SO2 emissions.

Strengthen education and outreach on emission trading.

–  –  –



YANG Jintian, CAO Dong, GE Chazhong, GAO Shuting (Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning)

–  –  –



1.1 SO2 Emission Trends

1.2 Acid rain and Environmental Impacts


2.1 Identifying Critical Control Zones

2.2 Limiting the Extraction and Use of High Sulphur Coal

2.3 Promoting SO2 Total Emission Control

2.4 Levying SO2 Emission Charges

2.5 Requiring Cities to Comply with National Ambient Standards for SO2 Concentrations

2.6 Adjusting the Composition of the Power Sector

2.7 Encouraging Desulphurisation



3.1 Foundations for SO2 Emission Trading in China

3.1.1 Compatibility of Emission Trading and the TEC Policy

3.1.2 Flexible Approach to Meeting Management Requirements

3.2 Basic Conditions for Emission Trading

3.2.1 Variation of Marginal SO2 Abatement Costs

3.2.2 Regional Problem

3.2.3 Emission Measurement

3.2.4 Legal Basis

3.2.5 Administrative Institutions


4.1 Progress in Piloting Emission Trading in China

4.2 Case Studies of Emission Trading

4.2.1 SO2 Emission Trading in Jiangsu Province

4.2.2 SO2 Emission Trading in Taiyuan City


5.1 Feasibility of National Implementation

5.2 Issues and Barriers

5.2.1 Legal Authority

5.2.2 Uniform Allocation Method

5.2.3 Monitoring and Verification

5.2.4 Coordination with Other Policy Instruments


6.1 National SO2 TEC Targets

34 6.1.1 The Power Sector SO2 TEC Target

6.2. Implementing the TEC

6.2.1 Power Sector

6.2.2 Two Control Zones

6.3 Implementation Phases


7.1 Conclusions

7.1 Suggestions



Over the past 10 years, the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has actively investigated the potential to use emission trading to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from electricity generators and industrial sources. In 1999, SEPA partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to cooperate on a study to assess the feasibility of implementing SO2 emission trading in China. SEPA has also pursued emission trading pilot projects in several cities and provinces. The authors, using information from the feasibility study and pilot projects, introduce the circumstances necessary for SO2 emission trading in China, outline the experience to date, and analyse implementation opportunities and barriers in China. The contents of the paper are: (1) SO2 emission control policies in China; (2) institutional requirements and the basis for introducing SO2 emission trading in China;

(3) case studies of emission trading in China; (4) opportunities and barriers to implementing emission trading in China; (5) recommendations to transition from pilot projects to a nationwide SO2 emission trading program; and (6) conclusions and suggestions.


1. Acid rain and sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution in China are very severe – ambient concentrations in some regions are several times higher than air quality standards – and have significant impacts on human health, ecosystems, and cultural resources. The toll on human health and the economy from air pollution is estimated to cost as much as 2% of GDP annually (Xie, 1998). As a result, since 1995 the Chinese government has placed great importance on controlling acid rain and SO2 pollution. In order to accomplish this, the government has identified key geographic areas where the problem is particularly severe and adopted a series of policies and measures to abate SO2 emissions. Emission trading is one of the instruments the government is investigating. This paper analyses the opportunities and barriers to implementing SO2 emission trading in China considering current institutional and legal conditions.

1.1 SO2 Emission Trends

2. Coal is the principal energy source in China; it is used to meet approximately 69% of China’s total primary energy demand (IEA, 2002). Due to a dramatic increase in China’s coal consumption over the last two decades from rapid industrialisation and population growth, SO2 emissions have increased and created serious environmental and human health problems. According to Chinese government statistics, SO2 emissions in China were 19.95 million tonnes in 2000; of which, 85% were from direct coal combustion (Yang et al., 2002). The largest consumer of industrial coal is the Chinese power sector. As a result, the power sector is a major source of SO2 emissions, leading to acid rain and acid deposition across China. These high-stack sources emit 8.9 million tonnes of SO2 annually, 45% of total emissions.

3. Government data show that total SO2 emissions in China increased between 1980 and 1995 to 23.7 million tonnes. Since a series of SO2 control measures were implemented in 1995, SO2 emissions have declined each year with a small increase in 2000. Figure 1 illustrates the annual SO2 emissions trend in China during the 1990s.

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0.1 20 0.08 15 0.06 10 0.04 5 0.02 0 0 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

–  –  –

Source: China Environment Yearbook, 1990 to 2001 4. Emission projections through 2010 show a steady increase in energy demand in China. Much of this demand will continue to be met through coal combustion. By 2010, total annual coal consumption will reach 1.44 billion tonnes and SO2 emissions are estimated to be 26.3 million tonnes (Yang et al., 2002).

Therefore, the task of bringing SO2 emissions under control is crucial though challenging.

1.2 Acid rain and Environmental Impacts

5. SO2 emissions and the resulting acid rain have serious impacts on human health, visibility, agriculture, forestry, architecture, and cultural resources. From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, the area affected by acid rain increased by more than 1 million km2. Currently, approximately 30% of China experiences precipitation with annual average pH values below 5.6 (Yang et al., 2002). The distribution of areas affected by acid rain is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Distribution of Acid Rain in 1980s and 1990s

6. While overall emissions are still high, China’s total SO2 emissions have decreased since 1995. As a result, the number of cities meeting the SO2 concentration standards has increased. But the problem of acid rain has not diminished and the area affected by acid rain and the degree of acidification have not 38 been effectively controlled. Precipitation monitoring data from 530 cities in 2002 showed that 48.9% of the cities suffer from acid rain, 171 cities or 32% have average annual pH values from precipitation below 4.5, and the number of cities with average annual pH values from precipitation below 4.5 is increasing (Qu, 2003). The main reasons are: (1) although total SO2 emissions have decreased, high stack sources that transport emissions over long distances and contribute to acid rain are responsible for an increasing percentage of emissions ; (2) SO2 emissions from the power sector, which is composed of primarily high-stack sources increased; and (3) there was an increase in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – another acid rain precursor.

–  –  –

7. In an effort to control SO2 emissions and lessen the effects of acid rain, China has adopted a series of control policies and measures since 1995.

2.1 Identifying Critical Control Zones

8. Based on areas affected by acid rain and high SO2 concentrations in 1998, the government identified key acid rain control and SO2 pollution control zones known as the “Two Control Zones” (TCZs). The first zone, the Acid Rain Control Zone, consists of areas with average annual pH values for precipitation less than or equal to 4.5, sulphate deposition greater than the critical load, and high SO2 emissions. The second zone, the SO2 Pollution Control Zone, consists of areas with annual average ambient SO2 concentrations exceeding Class II standards, daily average concentrations exceeding Class III standards, and high SO2 emissions. The TCZs are key areas for controlling acid rain and SO2 emissions in China and receive priority for investment and management to control emissions.

2.2 Limiting the Extraction and Use of High Sulphur Coal

9. In 1998, China instituted policies to restrict the extraction of high sulphur coal and limit its use in the TCZs. Most cities now use low sulphur coal and have adjusted their energy structures to decrease urban SO2 concentrations. The State Council explicitly requested in a national industrial policy that local governments shut down small, high-sulphur coalmines. Because of this policy, the sulphur content of coal combusted by the power sector has decreased every year (see Table 1 for average sulphur content values from coal combusted by the power sector).

Table 1: Average Sulphur Content of Coal Combusted in the Chinese Power Sector

–  –  –

10. In the Ninth Five-Year Plan Period (1996 – 2000), the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) began to promote a policy of total emission control (TEC). National SO2 TEC targets were established. SEPA then assigned individual TEC targets to provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. The regional governments subsequently assigned TEC targets to local governments and/or emission sources.

2.4 Levying SO2 Emission Charges

11. In order to promote SO2 abatement, SEPA piloted SO2 emission charges in 1992 in 2 provinces and 9 cities where acid rain was severe and SO2 emissions were high. The SO2 emission charges were extended to the entire area of the TCZs in 2000.

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