China has pledged to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
It has already launched seven regional pilot markets in a bid to gain experience ahead of a nationwide scheme.
"We will send over the national market regulations to the State Council for approval by the end of the year," Sun Cuihua, a senior climate official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told a conference in Beijing on Sunday.
The national market will start in 2016, although some provinces would be allowed to start later if they lacked the technical infrastructure to participate from the outset, she said.
The Chinese market, when fully functional, would dwarf the European emissions trading system, which is currently the world's biggest.