From “carbon account” to green development of carbon market

With the sound of “double carbon”, the road of transformation of a big coal country in the world has officially started. At the 2021 China real economy forum held on March 27, when talking about how to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, Liu Shijin, deputy director of the Economic Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, vice chairman of the China Development Research Foundation and member of the monetary policy committee of the central bank, proposed to establish a “carbon account” and achieve account balance through market-oriented transactions. However, policies need to be reformed and enterprises need efficiency. From the past, green industry has been adjusting itself between the government and the market, trying to find the optimal solution for industrial development.

“Carbon account” and long term mechanism

“For the goals we need to achieve, these two constraints also refer to two paths: one is high carbon and high growth, the other is low carbon and low growth. But for us, neither of these two roads can go or can’t go now. The only way left is the third one – low carbon, zero carbon, and then higher growth. ” On March 23, Liu Shijin said at an expert seminar on understanding the fourteenth five year plan.

For a long time, the growth rate of China’s national economy has been highly dependent on the increment of carbon emissions. According to statistics, China’s carbon emissions per unit of GDP, that is, carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of GDP, reached the peak in 1984-1992, with the highest emission of about 0.006 tons / dollar. At present, even if China’s carbon emission increment declines, the carbon emission per unit GDP is still nearly three times that of the United States. This also means that China’s economic increment is still in a high position in terms of carbon emission increment.

How to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality? Liu Shijin suggested that while strengthening the top-level design, it is necessary to establish the micro foundation of ecological civilization construction with the decisive role of the market as soon as possible. It is suggested to focus on the establishment of green development account and strive to make great progress on the micro basis of ecological civilization construction.

According to the introduction, according to the existing research, the basic elements of the green development account include GDP, the value of ecological capital services, carbon emissions and other pollutant emissions; these elements form the balance sheet of the value of ecological capital services; internalize the originally externalized green benefits and emission costs, so as to form a green development account that can reflect the full scope benefits and costs of economic activities The principle of green development account is combined with the income method in the input-output table to establish the green development account from the national and all levels of government to enterprises and individuals.

“The core of setting up green development account is to scientifically define and implement the property rights and responsibilities of relevant subjects in green development, and realize account balance through market-oriented transactions.” Liu Shijin said that after the establishment of the green development account, it is also convenient to reasonably and accurately decompose the “30-60” goals and tasks to governments, enterprises and individuals at all levels, forming a long-term mechanism for green development.

Lin Boqiang, President of China Energy Policy Research Institute of Xiamen University, said that the current “carbon account” has not yet been implemented, which involves specific links and requires a comprehensive assessment of carbon emissions from different industries. The process is relatively complex. At present, the more intuitive and easy to implement policy tools include green bonds.

Farewell to the “old way”

At present, “carbon peak, carbon neutral” has risen to the national strategic level. In the 2021 government work report released in March this year, it is proposed to do a solid job in carbon peak and carbon neutralization. Up to now, at least 25 provinces and autonomous regions, including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hubei and Hunan, have disclosed the measures on the “double carbon” goal in their government work reports disclosed within this year.

However, Liu Shijin also pointed out that “all aspects have taken action recently, but the way we adopted is still the old way of decomposing the task objectives from top to bottom, and basically we adopted some administrative means to implement it. This kind of method has the merit, the action is quite fast, in the short term also can take effect. But we must see whether the allocation of indicators is fair and reasonable, the cost of free riding is high, and the trade-off is poor.

A few days ago, the national development and Reform Commission and other ministries and commissions also said that they should promote the green level of iron and steel, petrochemical, chemical, nonferrous metals, building materials, textile, paper, leather and other industries. However, Miao Ping, President of Beijing Research Institute of low carbon and clean energy, once said that traditional energy still accounts for a large proportion in China’s energy structure. In the short term, energy substitution will bring cost increase, which may bring temporary development “pains” for enterprises.

As early as 2013, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and other seven provinces and cities carried out carbon emission trading pilot, and domestic cities also set off an investment boom in energy conservation and emission reduction. However, in the audit report of 1139 energy-saving and emission reduction projects in 10 provinces released by the national audit office that year, 44 projects implemented by 42 units failed to achieve the expected effect of energy-saving and emission reduction, involving 1.587 billion yuan of special funds. The official explanation was that “some completed energy-saving and emission reduction projects failed to achieve the expected effect due to design objectives not in line with reality, supervision and management not in place in the process of project implementation and other reasons It can reduce emissions. It is understood that the reasons for the project’s failure to meet the emission reduction targets include blind construction, advanced construction, fabrication of false information, illegal application for special funds, etc.

In Liu Shijin’s view, “promoting carbon emission reduction is a good thing, but some local governments always want to do something. Carbon emission reduction is easy to be abused as an excuse for administrative intervention, and even may affect the normal operation of life in serious cases. We should prevent such things from happening.”.

Green finance approach

“Globally, green development, including carbon neutrality, should be promoted. In recent years, China has developed a lot of carbon emission trading markets, but the business is small and relatively cold. The reason is that the green development of voluntary emission reduction alone is difficult to sustain. ” Liu Shijin said frankly, “our green development, including emission reduction, basically relies on policy promotion and moral inspiration. Green development to a large extent is a public product provided by the government, or has the charity of social organizations and individuals, but it lacks a sustainable mechanism.”

What is sustainable mechanism? In Lin Boqiang’s view, enterprises need to gain profits through reform, and the government also needs to make systematic changes in the transaction price. This process requires huge costs, and reasonable digestion of reform costs is also sustainable.

“To achieve carbon neutrality requires a huge amount of investment. We should guide the financial system to provide the necessary investment and financing support in a market-oriented way.” On March 22, Yi Gang, governor of the people’s Bank of China, said at the round table of China development high level forum.

In fact, China has initially established the green financial system. In August 2016, the central bank, the Ministry of Finance and other seven departments issued the “guidance on building a green financial system”, proposing to vigorously develop green credit, establish a green development fund, and mobilize social capital to support local development of green finance through the government and social capital cooperation (PPP) mode.

At present, with the marketization of investment and financing, the effectiveness of green finance is gradually emerging. According to statistics, by the end of 2020, the balance of green credit of 21 major domestic banks has exceeded 11 trillion yuan. According to the proportion of credit funds in the total investment of green projects, the green credit of 21 major banks can support saving more than 300 million tons of standard coal and reducing carbon dioxide equivalent by more than 600 million tons every year; meanwhile, the issuance of green bonds also gradually ushered in an outbreak period. According to the prediction of CICC, the issuance scale of green bonds in China may reach 500-800 billion yuan this year, which is the highest in all previous years, and its proportion in the global issuance scale is expected to jump to 20% – 25%.

However, in view of the fact that green finance is still in its infancy in China, the relevant system is still incomplete. Guo Haifei, deputy director of the industry finance platform green innovation center of the Advisory Committee of China Investment Association, also pointed out that the relevant standards of China’s green finance still need to be unified; due to the differences in market demand, the policies and regulations introduced are not comprehensive enough; the types of green finance development are still single, the scale of credit and bonds is still small, and the development of green insurance also faces immature, complicated application and approval procedures The green financial performance assessment requirements of financial institutions also need to be strengthened. Taking the green credit as an example, the bank does not take the environmental impact assessment of project development as the terms or indicators of loan granting conditions. It basically treats the loan application, approval and interest rate of high pollution and high energy consumption enterprises and green environmental protection enterprises equally. What the bank pursues is simply income, and it does not take the benefit of energy conservation and emission reduction as the precondition.

Beijing Business Daily reporter Tao Feng Liu Hanlin

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