At the press conference for the publication of the 2014 edition of the annual report “China's Policies and Actions on Climate Change” on 25 November 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) confirmed that a national ETS will be introduced as early as 2016 (release – Chinese). As a next step, rules for the national ETS will be published by the end of the year to serve as the legal foundation. Although no details on the national scheme’s design were published, the NDRC official stated that cap-and-trade and absolute emission targets are inseparable. The NDRC emphasised that development of the national scheme will be a long-term process and there are no ready-made solutions for carbon trading in China. But they expressed their hope that a mature carbon market will be established during the time of the 13th Fifth Year Plan, that will end in 2020.

This follows the US-China joint announcement on climate change and clean energy cooperation, where President Xi Jinping’s announced that China’s emissions will peak around 2030. The publication of a cap on coal consumption until 2020 by the State Council’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) in November also suggests China is moving towards absolute emissions targets.