(Bloomberg) --

The electronic platform that will be used for China’s national carbon trading program has completed testing, according to people with knowledge of the situation, a significant step for efforts by the world’s top polluter to rein in emissions.

The Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange, which will host the platform, has completed tests for the electronic system it designed for emissions trading, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public. One of the next steps will be to link it up with an online registry of nationwide carbon permits, they said.

China has aimed to set up a national carbon market by this year to cover the power sector, but analysts have speculated the rollout may be delayed after disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s biggest energy consumer is tapping financial market mechanisms to help cut greenhouse gases, a move expected to create the world’s biggest platform for trading carbon emissions. The program will force utilities to buy permits to pollute, a means to balance efforts against climate change with rising electricity demand.

The Hubei Emission Exchange, which is building the database that will track carbon allowances nationally, is still testing its registry, according to the people. The two systems will be linked when preliminary work at the Hubei exchange is complete, the people said, without providing a time frame.

Neither exchange replied to emailed requests for comment.

From there, the exchanges will await directions from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, which is managing the carbon market. Ministry officials didn’t return calls for comment.

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