China unveiled plans on Tuesday for a national carbon market, which is likely to become the world's largest exchange for emissions credits.
The emission exchange outlined by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the nation's top economic planner, may slowly change the calculus for utilities and other coal burners.
"The purpose of this program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said NDRC Vice Chairman Zhang Yong. "We aim to reduce emissions through market-based mechanisms."
The immediate focus for establishing the carbon credits exchange is on the power generation industry, Zhang said.
Some 1,700 electric companies emit more than 3 billion tons of carbon, Zhang said, noting that is where the scheme will begin.
The project expands on the lessons learned from seven provincial and city carbon exchanges.
China announced in December 2015 that it would launch a nationwide carbon emissions trading market in 2017 to fulfill the country's commitment to a low carbon future, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
China bears the title of top greenhouse gas emitter, burning more coal than every other country. The dirty fuel still accounts for roughly 60 percent of China's total energy consumption.
The country is also the largest investor in renewable energy and is seen as a potential leader in the fight against climate change after the US retreated from the Paris accord struck in 2015.