China is launching its first carbon-trading scheme today in the city of Shenzhen.  The plan is to increase it to seven cities by 2014 and take it nationwide after 2015.

This program covers 635 industrial and construction companies.  Eventually, transport companies and any business that uses oil, gas, or coal power will be moved under its umbrella.

Companies are given credits, each equal to one tonne of carbon.  Bigger companies will either have to cut their carbon output or buy carbon credits from smaller companies that produce less pollution.  Either way, it’s hoped the pressure will be on to cut harmful emissions.

China will initiate carbon-trading programs in six other places; Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon. 

The Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation Greg Combet says, “China's actions show that the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and Australia's largest trading partner is serious about cutting emissions at the lowest cost through a market mechanism.”