Climate Cooperation China
On behalf of the International Climate Initiative (IKI)

Ministry of Ecology and Environment released Methane Emission Control Action Plan

On 7 November 2023, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, in collaboration with ten other ministries and commissions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, unveiled a much-anticipated action plan aimed at curtailing methane emissions. This document’s release is a pivotal moment for China, the world’s foremost methane emitter.

 

The plan advocates for an augmentation of measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) processes and the establishment of a more robust regulatory framework to control methane emissions. It also underscores the imperative of leveraging innovative technologies, particularly those related to Leak Detection and Repair, under the 14th and 15th five-year plans (FYP), spanning from 2021 to 2025 and 2026 to 2030, respectively. The primary focus is on making significant strides in the energy sector (coal mines, oil and gas fields), agriculture (livestock farms, rice paddies), and waste management (landfills, sewage treatment facilities).

 

The plan includes qualitative and some quantitative targets concerning the reduction of emission intensity. Specifically, it sets out the following targets to be achieved by 2025:

  • policy, technology, and standard system is gradually established
  • MRV capabilities are effectively enhanced
  • annual utilisation of coal mine gas reaches 6 billion m³
  • utilisation rate of livestock and poultry manure of above 80 %
  • resource utilisation rate of urban domestic waste of 60 % (included in the 14th FYP)
  • disposal rate of urban sludge of above 90 % (included in the 14th FYP)
  • synergistic control of pollution management and methane emissions is significantly improved

 

By 2030, more targets will be reached:

  • policy, technology, and standard system is further improved
  • MRV capabilities are significantly enhanced
  • level of coal mine gas utilisation is further increased
  • methane emission intensity per unit of agricultural products in planting and breeding industries is further reduced
  • internationally advanced level in the gas collection rate from oil field-associated gas is reached
  • utilisation rate of livestock and poultry manure of above 85 %

 

The plan also sets targets not bound to a specific timeline, including:

  • gradually reducing conventional flaring in oil and gas extraction (to reach zero sometime after 2030)
  • reducing emissions from enteric fermentation and rice paddies
  • further improving the resource utilisation system for urban domestic waste
  • upgrading food waste treatment and landfill facilities as well as the effectiveness of urban domestic sewage collection and treatment
  • developing a monitoring system that combines terrestrial, aerial, and satellite remote sensing
  • exploring and studying methane emission reduction incentive and subsidy policies for ruminant breeding and rice farming

 

The plan saw some criticism for not containing quantitative emission reduction targets and a lack of clear measures to achieve those targets defined. However, the establishment of stronger MRV and regulatory structures is an immensely important prerequisite for more concrete targets and measures to achieve emission reductions. The plan is hoped to achieve multiple benefits, encompassing methane emission reduction by 2030, economic advantages from efficient energy resource utilisation, safety benefits stemming from reduced production accidents, and environmental gains from pollutant control. Additionally, the plan underscores China’s commitment to active participation in international cooperation and exchanges on reducing methane emissions and addressing climate change more broadly. Its release coincided with Sino-US climate consultations leading up to the release of the Sunnylands Statement, in which China committed to closer technical cooperation on methane and to include actions or targets on methane reduction in their 2035 NDC.

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