After a decade-long pilot in several cities, China's unified carbon market officially started trading at 9:15 pm on July 16.

According to CCTV, the first transaction was successfully concluded at 9:30 am at RMB 52.78 ($8.1) per ton, with a total of 160,000 tons traded at a value of RMB 7.9 million.

The power generation sector became the first to participate, covering more than 2,000 companies with a combined carbon footprint of more than 4 billion tons of CO2.

Zhao Yingming, vice minister of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said that China's carbon market included the power generation industry first because the industry has relatively large carbon dioxide emissions, a relatively sound management system and a good database.

In the future, the steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemical, chemical, building materials, paper, power and aviation industries will also be included in the carbon trading market.

China's carbon market started with a pilot in a few cities in 2011 and has established carbon emissions trading pilots in Beijing, Shanghai, Hubei, Guangdong, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Chongqing.

By June 2021, the cumulative quota turnover in the carbon markets of the pilot provinces and cities was 480 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, with a turnover of about RMB 11.4 billion, according to data previously released by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

However, carbon quotas in each regional market cannot flow across regions, and the price of quotas in each carbon market varies greatly due to local policies, market supply and demand, and other influences.

"Building a national carbon emissions trading market is a major institutional innovation to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote green and low-carbon development using market mechanisms," said Zhao on July 14.

The focus of future work will shift to ensuring the smooth and effective operation of a unified national carbon emissions trading market, and local carbon markets should gradually transition to a national carbon market, he said.

Notably, the auto industry is not included in that market, which is a global practice.

China's so-called "Double Credit" policy for the auto industry, which requires all carmakers to meet energy efficiency standards on average for all models, is also seen as a prototype for a carbon trading market.

According to a previous research report by China Industrial Securities, the current trading price per unit of new energy credits in China has risen from RMB 300 ($47) to RMB 500 to RMB 2,500 to RMB 3,000, a maximum increase of nine times.

William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of , has revealed that NIO harvested 200,000 credits last year, and selling them will allow NIO to earn more revenue.

NIO, XPeng, Li Auto have lots of new energy credits, here's how much they're worth

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