In case you missed it: 3 recent ‘gifts’ to the environment

© Kyle Obermann

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In this series, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know.

China kicks off emissions trading market

On Tuesday, China revealed its plans to create the world’s largest financial market devoted to reducing emissions contributing to climate change.

Energy companies will be given a set amount of carbon that they’re allowed to emit, and companies exceeding that limit will need to buy “credits” from those that overachieved in reducing their emissions. The system will ensure that emissions stay below the “cap” while allowing energy companies the freedom to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective manner. More than 1,700 power companies are expected to trade 3.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually through the Shanghai-based marketplace, according to USA Today.

China’s announcement only affects the country’s energy companies, and excludes China’s car industry, industrializing agriculture sector and chemical industry, which also tend to be big contributors to the country’s emissions. China could eventually phase in additional industries, and by 2020 the plan could take 5.5 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere annually.

“China’s planned cap-and-trade program represents an important step towards reducing emissions while incentivizing a shift to low-carbon development, which will help China to not only meet its emissions reduction targets, but also help to tackle air pollution,” said Shyla Raghav, Conservation International’s (CI) climate change lead.

BHP exits coal mining group

BHP, a British-Australian mining company and Conservation International partner, said in a report Tuesday that it planned to withdraw from the World Coal Association, an international lobbying group, over differences in opinion regarding climate change policies.

BHP recently achieved its goal to limit 2017 operational emissions to below the company’s 2006 baseline, while increasing production by 52 percent.

BHP also announced it is reconsidering its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to the group’s negative stance on the 2015 Paris Agreement, which the company supports.

“Industry has a key role to play in working with governments and other stakeholders to inform the development of an effective, long-term climate change policy framework that delivers a measured transition to a lower emissions economy,” the BHP report said. “We believe an effective policy framework should include a complementary set of measures, including a price on carbon, support for low-emissions technology and measures to build resilience.”

World Bank vows no more financing of oil and gas projects

The World Bank announced Dec. 12 at the One Planet Summit that it will stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction, starting in 2019. This move was one of several commitments pledged by companies and countries at the summit to curb greenhouse gas emissions and achieve targets established in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments,” the World Bank said in a statement about the decision.

In sum, the news ends the year on a hopeful note, Raghav says.

“It’s been an eventful year in the climate world and while we have a long way to go, countries and companies around the world are making huge strides in addressing the necessary and needed shifts to decarbonize our energy system,” she said. “These stories give us tremendous hope that together, we can solve climate change.”

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for CI.

Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Top photo: A river in Maliu Valley of Anzihe Protected Area, China. (© Kyle Obermann)