Climate change chief puts China carbon tax into question

January 13, 2012
Despite reports to the contrary, China remains undecided whether to tax carbon emissions, as the government weighs how it could impact plans to launch an emissions trading scheme and whether it is feasible given current high domestic tax levels, a senior official said in the US on Wednesday.

The statement contrasts with earlier media reports saying China will introduce a tax before 2015 and underscores global interest in how China plans to address climate change in the years ahead, according to a report in Reuters.

Speaking at the World Resources Institute in Washington, Su Wei, China's chief negotiator on climate change, said a tax on carbon was one of several policy options for China to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the highest of any nation.

But China plans to launch a carbon trading scheme, and adding a tax on major emitters could complicate legislation.

"There may be some overlap between the two systems. Of course, the two systems are not mutually exclusive. We need to have a very careful consideration," Su told reporters at WRI, an international think tank.

A decision on a carbon tax would be delayed until there was clarity on whether and how the two instruments could co-exist.

Chinese state media reported last week that a government-affiliated think-tank, the Financial Science Research Institute, had proposed to the Ministry of Finance that China implement a 10 yuan (USD1.58) per tonne tax on emissions from big energy users before 2015.