China will embark on a nationwide emissions trading programme in 2005, in an attempt to make its major cities pollution-free. A 1998 World Health Organization report placed seven Chinese cities among the 10 most polluted cities in the world.
Under the proposed scheme, the government will set emission targets each year. In addition to this, it will issue tradable licences granting the right to generate pollutants -- chiefly to factories and power producers. Emissions trading projects are already being tried out in five cities and provinces. Experts opine that these attempts to curb pollution are likely to encounter stiff resistance from oil and power companies, which will have to cough up billions of dollars to adhere to the new stipulations.
The programme will most likely target sulphur dioxide. This is emitted in huge quantities in China by burning fossil fuels. Coal is used to generate about 70 per cent of China's energy supply. High levels of sulphur dioxide are known to cause respiratory diseases and acid rain.