China's chief negotiator to the UN climate change talks said on Wednesday that the country opposes the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a plan to tax non-EU international airlines for carbon emissions.
However, he said the country is willing to seek a solution to carbon emissions reduction in the aviation industry through multilateral mechanisms.
Solutions in the aviation industry regarding climate change issues should be decided on the basis of negotiation and common agreement. The ETS goes against relevant international conventions and rules, and is thus opposed by most non-EU countries, Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office on Wednesday.
The ETS system requires all airlines flying in EU airspace to pay a tax on 15 percent of their total carbon emissions for 2012, a move that has triggered global opposition.
China believes that a unilateral measure taken in regards to such an issue that involves multilateral interests is improper and unlawful, the official said.
Moreover, by setting benchmark emissions quotas at the average annual level in the 2004-2006 period, the EU trading system discriminates against China and many other developing countries whose aviation industries have grown rapidly in recent years, Xie said.
However, the official said that China has noticed the EU Commission's proposal to freeze the tax on non-EU flights for one year, and the country is willing to figure out a proper solution to the issue through a multilateral mechanism, such as the platform of the International Civil Aviation Organization, in accordance with relevant international law.
Xie said that after the Doha climate conference, China will also vigorously participate in high-level round-table talks regarding cutting emissions in the aviation industry, and it is planning to table some proposals to advance this cause.
The official stressed that China is also taking robust measures to reduce emissions in its aviation and shipping industries, including airport renovation projects and other efforts to increase energy efficiency.
Taxing or trading emissions are not the only approaches to emissions reduction, Xie said, adding that China will not reject such measures, but hopes for a more comprehensive solution.
Xie further noted that last year China initiated a pilot carbon emissions trading system in seven of the country's provincial-level regions including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong, and the program has been running smoothly so far.
In June, the NDRC issued a regulation on the administrative register and management of such transactions.
China is also willing to cooperate with other countries in this field and establish an acceptable international carbon emissions trading market. But that should be on the condition that China, itself, has relevant experience and a sound system, Xie said.
Moreover, the official said the government is considering a carbon tax system to see which system works better in China.