A statue of Mao Zedong in front of smoking chimneys at a factory in Wuhan, March 2013.
Darley Shen / Reuters

China was deathly hot and fevered with excitement about the Olympics, which it was about to host. I was there for a celebration of another sort: the ceremonial signing of an agreement I had helped negotiate to create the Tianjin Climate Exchange (TCX), the first of China’s seven pilot carbon markets. At the time, it was a landmark in the integration of environmental and economic imperatives. TCX would explore how to use a cap-and-trade system and carbon pricing to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.   It was a joint venture between China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), a subsidiary of PetroChina, the vast state-owned oil company; the City of Tianjin, eager to establish itself as a modern financial hub; and the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), whose founder was financial innovator and economist Richard L. Sandor, who was eventually awarded the Légion d’honneur by the government of France

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  • PAULA DIPERNA is an author and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the former president of CCX-International and a founding board member of the Tianjin Climate Exchange. She currently serves as Special Advisor to the Carbon Disclosure Project, as well as other organizations and philanthropies. 
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