A systematic evaluation of the national carbon pricing effect on phasing out China’s operating coal plants has been conducted by a collaborative research team from the Institutes of Science and Development of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CASISD), North China Electric Power University, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, and Beihang University. Using full-sample data of China’s 4,540 operating coal plant units and a stochastic Monte-Carlo financial model to assess the financial sustainability of the plant operation, and the lifetime change of each plant unit induced by carbon pricing, they found that although China’s operating coal plant units are young and have a long residual technical lifetime, many of their operations are close to the break-even state with the current policy and market conditions. According to the researchers, the carbon pricing effect on China’s phasing out coal power are mainly determined by the carbon price evolution, carbon permit allocation methods and the pass-through of the carbon cost to the consumer. Even with low initial carbon price of 50 CNY/tCO2 growing at 4%/y and the permits being fully auctioned, the average residual lifetime of all the plants will be reduced by 5.43 years, and the cumulative CO2 emission from 2020 to 2050 will be reduced by 22.73 billion ton. With the carbon price further reaching 100 CNY/tCO2, the operating coal plant stock is expected to be phased out 6 years earlier. Moreover, the disparity in the carbon pricing effect among China’s 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities is significant and the western regions are more vulnerable to the carbon pricing risk than the eastern regions, with the residual lifetime being shortened by between 0.34 and 15.71 years via the carbon price of 50 CNY/tCO2.