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Emissions trading in China: lessons from Taiyuan SO2 emissions trading program

Zhen Lu (Faculty of Business, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 30 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to investigate sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions trading practice in China and discusses what it might reveal about the suitability of using emissions trading to achieve carbon reductions in China.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores the Taiyuan SO2 emissions trading program case through interviews with key participants in the scheme. The interview questions are developed from the literature on emissions trading practice and theory.

Findings

The Taiyuan SO2 emissions trading program does not seem to be functioning anything like a theoretically ideal model and this brings into question proposals to introduce emissions trading in China. Limitations would seem to be the semi‐free market, the weakness of the legal system and the nature of business‐bureaucracy interactions.

Research limitations/implications

This case study is geographically limited, as are most emissions trading schemes in China and the number of interviewees is relatively small. There was also little historical quantitative data because of the limited records kept in the enterprises and so there is a high reliance on interviewees' recollection.

Practical implications

The evidence suggests that a national carbon trading scheme may not be suitable in China in the short run because the implementation of the program and emissions trading market are very important.

Originality/value

This is the first paper investigating the actual performance of SO2 emissions trading practice in China and also the first one discussing the suitability of using emissions trading to achieve carbon reductions in China based on the existing practice.

Keywords

Citation

Lu, Z. (2011), "Emissions trading in China: lessons from Taiyuan SO2 emissions trading program", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 27-44. https://doi.org/10.1108/20408021111162119

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited