China’s enormous pollution problem isn’t news. Earlier this year, the nation set ambitious goals to peak GHG emissions by 2030, but we haven’t heard much about how that goal will be achieved. This morning, China’s President Xi Jinping is announcing a landmark cap-and-trade program expected to launch in 2017. This marks the first tangible step toward making drastic cuts in the pollution that is killing thousands of people each day in China and contributing to climate change.

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The announcement comes out of a White House summit held this morning. President Barack Obama and President Xi have been collaborating for some time to develop strategic ways to reduce carbon emissions, in hopes of pressuring other nations to adopt similar goals. China is the world’s largest polluter, with most of the GHG emissions coming from industries like steel, paper, and electric power, much of which is coal-fired. White House officials say China’s cap-and-trade plan, which has been in development since April, builds on an earlier agreement that Xi and Obama reached last year in Beijing.

Related: China’s smog kills 4,000 people every day

Details of China’s new strategy are unknown, but a typical cap-and-trade system, which is a concept originally created by American economists, would see a cap on the amount of carbon pollution permitted annually. Industry leaders would be allowed to buy and sell permits to emit pollutants, imposing an overall balance on the nation’s emissions. In a country plagued by coal industry corruption, a market-based approach to climate change may work in China, where smaller scale cap-and-trade programs have been running for the past three years.

Via New York Times

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