This paper looks at the Chinese pilot emissions trading schemes, modelled after the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Since carbon trading has become the dominant form of institutional mechanism for climate change mitigation, comparing the ETS of two of the most influential actors in the global climate regime offers insight into the adequacy of their respective national climate efforts. The choice to compare the Chinese ETS pilots to the EU ETS is based on the influence of the latter on the former, as well as the overall leadership of the EU in addressing climate change. Before being able to engage in the comparative exercise, the discussion will start with a review of current Chinese climate change policies and the domestic constraints on effective policy implementation (Section II). Following that, the emissions trading schemes in China and the EU will be assessed. This paper will conclude with an analysis of the policy considerations for the upcoming national Chinese ETS, based on the limitations of the Chinese pilot schemes and the lessons learned from the EU ETS (Section III).