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China Releases Methane Emissions Control Action Plan


7 November 2023 — Today China released its long-awaited Methane Emissions Control Action Plan (“Action Plan”, English translation here). The Action Plan was jointly issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) together with ten other national ministries and agencies. This reflects the extensive interagency review that MEE had to undertake to secure State Council approval for release of the Plan. This situation also underscores the importance of interagency coordination for effective implementation of the Action Plan. Indeed, this Action Plan serves as an important step in that MEE is taking the lead on methane mitigation in terms of interagency coordination and policy/standard strengthening.

The Action Plan highlights as key priorities the improvement of the monitoring, reporting, and verification system for methane emissions, as well as methane-emissions control actions in the energy, agriculture, and waste sectors. It is also noteworthy that the Action Plan aims to strengthen the synergistic control of methane and other pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds.

With regard to the quantitative targets, the Action Plan does not provide a comprehensive methane mitigation goal.1 Instead, it lists sectoral methane-mitigation targets, including:

Additionally, future strengthening and improvement of mandatory standards and regulatory measures are also critical for the implementation and strengthening of this Action Plan. Indeed, the Action Plan provides some guidance on this front, including further improvement of coal mine safety regulations for methane mitigation and methane emission standards for coalbed methane. As an incentive mechanism, the Action Plan also promotes the inclusion of methane mitigation and reutilization projects in the greenhouse gas voluntary emission trading system.

Additionally, the Action Plan emphasizes that China will actively engage in international cooperation and exchanges on methane mitigation, including through China’s Climate-Change South-South Cooperation efforts and the Belt and Road Initiative.

1 Note that Lin et al. (2022) identified that China’s methane mitigation potential is estimated at 469 MtCO₂e in 2030, or the equivalent of 35% reduction from 2015 levels.

IGSD’s annotated, English reference translation of the China Methane Emissions Action Plan is available here.

Additional IGSD and IGSD partner China Briefings: