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Combet predicts Asia-Pacific carbon trading pact

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet says Australia’s carbon trading system could eventually be linked to those in China and other Asia-Pacific countries in a system which would eliminate “competitive disadvantage” between the region’s economies.

Mr Combet is in Beijing to speak to officials about how Chinese carbon trading systems will work before heading to South Korea, where legislation is currently before parliament.

China is preparing to run pilot carbon trading schemes in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Hubei and Guangdong - major cities with a combined population of 250 million people.

The Government’s goal is to then introduce a national trading scheme by 2015.

Once China and South Korea start trading carbon Mr Combet says there can eventually be an integrated Asia-Pacific system which could also include Australia, New Zealand, California and parts of Canada.

“Australia and New Zealand have got emissions trading schemes, California has got one, provinces in Canada are introducing emissions trading, Korea is introducing emissions trading. There are these pilot schemes being generated within China,” he said.

“In the Asia-Pacific region there is scope in the years to come for us to develop quite an integrated approach.

“A common carbon price could evolve from that, between our economies, which removes any issue of competitive disadvantage.

“And this is why I’m putting effort into this particular issue in China and Korea at the moment.”

Apart from pilot trading schemes, China has various carbon reduction methods already in place.

They include a Government commitment to reduce the whole country’s carbon output per unit of GDP by 17 per cent before the end of 2015, and by a whopping 40 to 45 per cent by 2020.

There are also plans afoot to directly charge - or tax - heavy polluting companies for their emissions, but the price per tonne of carbon dioxide has not yet been released.

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