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China unveils action plan to reduce methane emissions

BEIJING: China on Tuesday (Nov 7) published an action plan on reducing methane emissions, pledging more “forceful” measures to improve its capabilities to control the greenhouse gas output ahead of COP28 climate talks later this month.

China will “effectively improve” its monitoring and supervision systems for methane in its five-year plan period through 2025, and “significantly improve” them in the next five-year period from 2026 to 2030, according to the strategy published by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

The country’s conventional onshore oil and gas industry will also “strive” to reduce flaring to zero over the 2026-2030 period.

It will aim for annual use of coal mine gas to reach 6 billion cubic metres by 2025, and collection rates of associated gases in oilfields to reach an “international advanced level” by 2030.

China’s approach to methane has been a key part of negotiations with the United States to find common ground ahead of the COP28 climate summit in late November.

China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua is meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry in California from Nov 4 to Nov 7.

Xie said on the sidelines of climate talks last year in Egypt that the country was working on a methane action plan, but he conceded that its ability to control emissions was “weak” and the plan would focus on “preliminary goals” like improving monitoring capabilities.

While other countries are focusing on emissions from oil and gas, China’s main challenges are controlling methane from coal mines and rice paddies.

Last week, Marcelo Mena, head of the Global Methane Hub and former environment minister of Chile, told Reuters that China’s plan to cut methane emissions would likely “cut the biggest chunk out of emissions from developing countries”.

Related:

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