The number of carbon permits traded on the mainland's pilot emissions market in Shenzhen reached 1.57 million in its first year of operations, or about 5 per cent of the total offered for last year, official data showed yesterday. Shenzhen was the first of seven pilot schemes set up by the authorities, with the final one launched in Chongqing last month, in a bid to curb its greenhouse gas emissions - currently the highest in the world. For all the seven pilot carbon markets, liquidity has been a problem, with the firms covered by the schemes given little incentive to trade large volumes in the first year. While the market has provided valuable experience for policymakers eyeing a nationwide trading platform, improvements were still required, said Ge Xing'an, a vice-director at the China Emissions Exchange, which runs the Shenzhen market. The Shenzhen market caps emissions from 635 firms, some of which had not participated initially, saying they were unhappy about scheme rules and planned to appeal to the government about how their emission targets had been set. On an average, less than 1,500 permits were traded per day before May, but later exceeded 20,000 tonnes a day after the city government made it clear two weeks ago that it would fine companies that fail to comply. More than 80,000 permits were traded daily in the eight trading days from June 18. At the end of the first year yesterday, 96 per cent of the companies covered by the scheme had met their targets and the price for permits stood at 65 yuan (HK$81.20) per tonne, compared with 30 yuan at the open last year. The market price has hovered at 70 to 80 yuan this year.