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[BEIJING] China has announced two new carbon trading initiatives to help develop its poorer regions and meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Both projects were launched in Beijing yesterday (6 February). The first, a joint venture between the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese government, will establish a carbon trading exchange in Beijing — the first outside Europe and the United States.

Carbon trading was established by the UN under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide — a major greenhouse gas — as part of the Kyoto Protocol.

Nations are allocated ‘carbon credits’ — permits to emit carbon above a country’s quota, as agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. They are issued to companies that can trade them in a free market.

The UN expects China to account for 41 per cent of all carbon credits issued by 2012, reported the UK Financial Times.

Khalid Malik, UNDP resident representative in China, said carbon trading presented China with a 'major opportunity' to forge a more sustainable development path.

According to the Financial Times, Malik hoped the Beijing exchange would trade in special carbon credits tied to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). But the UN has expressed reservations about implementing these.

The second project, MDG Carbon: Carbon Finance for Achieving Millennium Development Goals, will invest US$1.7 million in 12 western Chinese regions to help the public and private sector deal in carbon credits.

The three-year project will establish service centres to help local governments, enterprises and individuals enter the carbon trade and will use carbon trading as a tool to generate income and job opportunities in western China by investing in green technologies in the region.

To date, few efforts have been taken to ensure that carbon trading benefits the country’s poorer regions. Ongoing CDM projects often focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from chemical industries in China's richer coastal areas.

Zhang Chengyi of the Beijing Climate Center, said the MDG Carbon project would explore the huge potential for western China to enter the carbon trade.

He said recent forestation programmes in western China have already helped offset carbon dioxide emissions.

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