IGSD

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

China Announces Further Steps Toward Reduction of Non-CO2 Super Climate Pollutant Emissions


28 April 2021— At the China State Council press conference, the China Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced actions on non-carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gases (GHGs), including methane (CH4), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), nitrous oxide (N2O), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Additionally, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced further actions to support ozone-depleting substance (ODS) management and control at a monthly press conference convened on 28 April 2021.

These announcements reflect and build upon recent announcements by China’s President Xi Jinping. In a virtual summit with President Macron of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany on 16 April 2021, President Xi announced China will accept the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as well as to strengthen the control of non-CO2 GHGs, including HFCs that are scheduled for phasedown under the Kigali Amendment. President Xi Jinping further stressed China’s commitment to “accept the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol” and “to strengthen the control of non-CO2 GHGs” at the Leaders Climate Summit on 22 April 2021.

These actions bear monitoring. Fast mitigation strategies that bend the warming curve down in the near term by reducing emissions of these super climate pollutants—particularly short-lived methane, HFCs, and black carbon soot—complement efforts to stabilize climate by reducing long-lived N2O, CO2, PFCs, and SF6 in the longer term. They therefore also help limit temperature increases to 1.5°C and reduce the likelihood that we will trigger catastrophic climate impacts that can put mid-century carbon neutrality goals out of reach.

At the State Council press conference on 27 April 2021, the China Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced the following action items:

Methane

  • Revise emission standards for coal-bed methane and coal-mine gas.
  • Explore regional governance of methane emissions with relevant provinces and municipalities.
  • Promote and strengthen the construction of demonstration projects for methane extraction and utilization in key mining areas, and further improve relevant standards, including technical and engineering standards during the construction of demonstration projects.
  • Strengthen emissions control in the oil and gas sector, reduce methane leakage in all aspects of oil and gas extraction, collection, processing, transportation, and storage, and distribution, and further strengthen the recovery and utilization of vented natural gas and coalfield associated gas.
  • Control methane emissions from garbage disposal and treatment of waste from large-scale livestock farms, as well as promote utilization of biogas.
HFCs
  • Continue HFC-23 destruction.
  • Improve energy efficiency and promote the refrigerant transition in the refrigeration[/cooling] industries.
N2O
  • Promote the reduction of N2O in the nitric acid and adipic acid industries.
  • Continue to promote the reduction of fertilizer use in agriculture.
SF6
  • Phase out the use of SF6in the power grid and promote energy-efficient, low warming potential power facilities.

While these announcements are notable, these commitments would be further strengthened with the adoption of specific targets and regulatory measures.

It is worth noting that, at the monthly Ministry of Ecology and Environment Press conference (April 28, 2021), the Ministry announced that it is carrying out a number of measures aimed at strengthening its ODS inspection and enforcement system, including China’s plan for treaty compliance during the 14th Five-year Plan period, and reference to the UNEP iPIC mechanism, which the Ministry of Ecology and Environment mentioned was instrumental in China’s efforts that avoided potential illegal ODS trade amounting to approximately 1,984 tonnes. Such efforts are also critical for ensuring the effective implementation of the Kigali Amendment, in light of President Xi’s aforementioned announcement on 16 April 2021 that China has decided to accept the Kigali Amendment.