China is this month set to launch its carbon emissions trading scheme , in a potential boost to global action on climate change , with experts saying accuracy of emissions data would be crucial to judging its success. Delayed from its originally planned launch last month, the scheme aims to incentivise a reduction in emissions, hand in hand with legal limits on pollution, by enabling companies to buy extra allowances from other energy-efficient firms. Some Chinese and foreign media had reported that trading would begin this Friday, but environment vice-minister Zhao Yingmin told Global Times at a press briefing on Wednesday that this was not the case. Zhao said that the scheme would be “an important step in global climate actions”. It is seen as a crucial tool for China to decarbonise its economy and reach its target, set last September, of carbon neutrality by 2060 . China is the world’s largest emitter, accounting for about 30 per cent of the world’s annual greenhouse gases. The emissions trading scheme will put a price on emissions and allow companies to buy extra allowances if they need to pollute more. Speaking at a State Council meeting last Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said the scheme would be launched this month, but officials have not confirmed when trading will start. Once launched, China’s scheme will become the world’s largest in carbon trading. It will initially cover more than 2,200 companies in the power sector – businesses that together accounted for about 40 per cent of China’s carbon dioxide emissions, or roughly 14 per cent of the world’s energy-related emissions. The system is to be expanded to cover seven other carbon-intensive industries: construction materials, steel, petrochemicals, chemicals, non-ferrous metals, papermaking and aviation. Zhao said that across seven regional pilot carbon trading schemes, which began eight years ago, the carbon price in China in the past two years had averaged about 40 yuan a tonne. These pilot schemes have handled a total of 480 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Data provider Refinitive previously predicted that carbon prices would trade at about 40 yuan per tonne this year and rise to about 160 yuan in 2030. China will have its own price, which will not be impacted by overseas markets, Zhao said. “It’s not good to have either too high or too low a carbon price,” he said. “A reasonable price can demonstrate our determination and resolve to peak carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality, and to send the correct signal to enterprises to reduce emissions.” Experts said a challenge for China’s scheme was the accuracy and reliability of emissions data, an area Zhao said at the briefing would be a focus for the authorities. Power companies had been asked to report emissions to the environment ministry every month, with supporting materials, Zhao said, with provincial environmental departments checking the data and the environment ministry conducting spot checks. The environmental bureau in the northern region of Inner Mongolia found this month that an aluminium product manufacturing company had made up its emissions data. “Monitoring reporting and verification processes under any emissions trading scheme is important,” said Lina Li, a China emissions and climate policy expert at Berlin-based consultancy Adelphi. “The China [scheme] may be particularly so, given its sheer size and that the current coverage of the power sector is supposed to test the ground.” “Carbon trading needs a strong legal basis and the regulations should be strengthened,” said Yang Fuqiang, a research fellow with Peking University’s energy institute.