Hubei Province Starts China’s Second-Biggest Carbon Exchange

China’s central province of Hubei began trading permits on the nation’s second-largest emission exchange at some of the country’s lowest prices.

The province sold 510,000 metric tons of carbon allowances at 21 yuan ($3.4) each on the first day of trading on the China Hubei Emission Exchange, according to an e-mailed statement today. Some 22 companies participated in 19 trades, it said.

The number of permits sold and revenue raised are the highest yet for any of the pilot markets started in China, said Charlie Cao, a Beijing-based analyst from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “About 16 percent of the 138 companies that were allocated emission permits in Hubei opted to trade today, benefiting the future market.”

Hubei, home to 58 million people, will be China’s second-biggest carbon market after the southern province of Guangdong. Hubei’s pilot program will cap emissions at 324 million tons this year as it becomes the sixth of seven regions in China to start carbon trading. The price of today’s permit sales were about one-third the level of about 60 yuan in Guangdong, the nation’s highest starting price.

China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases linked to climate change, established regional carbon markets as it seeks to cut carbon intensity, a measure of pollution relative to gross domestic product. The Chinese government has said the seven pilot exchanges are a precursor to a national trading system to start as soon as 2016. Chongqing will be the last of seven pilot program to launch.

Hubei sold 2 million tons of allowances at 20 yuan a ton in an auction earlier this week, according to the statement. The province also agreed to discuss inter-regional cooperation on carbon trading with Guangdong and other central provinces of Shanxi, Anhui and Jiangxi.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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