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BEIJING, Jan 5 (Reuters) - China's biggest energy-consuming companies are likely to face a direct tax on carbon dioxide emissions by 2015, the Xinhua-backed Economic Information Daily reported on Thursday, citing government sources.
It said proposals for a new environmental taxation system had already been submitted for review to the Ministry of Finance and were expected to be implemented before the end of the 2011-2015 five-year plan.
Drawn up by the ministry's Financial Science Research Institute, the proposals include setting up an independent tax on greenhouse gas emissions that would focus on big consumers of coal, crude oil and natural gas.
The proposals call for the tax to be levied by as early as this year, but the newspaper said economic uncertainties would likely delay the launch.
The tax would begin at a rate of 10 yuan ($1.59) per tonne of carbon dioxide, and gradually increase depending on a company's emission levels, the report said. It did not elaborate on when the higher tax bands would kick in.
The National Bureau of Statistics said late last year that it was working to set up a system to measure carbon emissions at major industrial companies, a move crucial to the country's plans to establish pilot carbon markets and a carbon tax.
The country emitted 8.33 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2010, a quarter of the global total, according to BP's annual Statistical Review of World Energy released last June.
Beijing has pledged to reduce carbon intensity -- the amount produced per unit of gross domestic product -- by 17 percent over 2011-2015, and big heavy industrial emitters will be compelled to cut CO2 produced per unit of output by more than 20 percent by the end of 2015.
China is planning to launch a series of pilot carbon markets and is also mulling a cap on overall energy and coal consumption over the 2011-2015 period. ($1 = 6.2946 yuan) (Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Chris Lewis)