Home » News/Press Releases » Methane Action in China and Opportunities to Raise Ambition

Methane Action in China and Opportunities to Raise Ambition


22 March 2024, Washington, DC - A new paper released today presents a comprehensive overview of China’s national targets and regulatory requirements relevant to methane mitigation and shares perspectives on opportunities to advance China’s ongoing efforts of developing a comprehensive policy framework for reducing methane emissions. The paper is a collaboration between the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) and the Asia-Pacific Center for Environmental Law (APCEL) at the National University of Singapore.

Maximizing methane mitigation, especially in countries such as China with large methane emissions, is the fastest and best strategy currently available to slow near-term warming and keep global warming of 1.5 °C within reach. Exceeding the 1.5 °C guardrail increases the risk that adverse and irreversible climate impacts will be triggered. Slowing near-term warming provides climate-vulnerable communities with time to adapt and build resilience and reduces their adaptation burdens. Additionally, because methane is a component of ground-level smog, cuts in methane emissions reduce harm to human health and crops.

China’s energy, waste, and agriculture sectors and industrial processes contributed 55.292 megatonnes of methane (MtCH4) emissions in 2014. To put this in perspective, global methane emissions were estimated at about 321.87 MtCH4 in 2015. The lion’s share of methane mitigation potential in China is in the coal mining sector (16.12 MtCH4) and the waste sector (1.08 MtCH4).

In November 2023, China released its Methane Emissions Control Action Plan. The Action Plan prioritizes the improvement of China’s methane-emissions measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification system, as well as additional methane-emissions control actions in the energy, agriculture, and waste sectors. It also aims to strengthen the synergistic control of methane and other pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds.

China’s Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 provides that China will “strengthen the control of other greenhouse gases such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons.”

The new paper presents several ways China can further raise its ambition to strengthen methane mitigation:

  • China could advance its methane ambitions through bilateral and multilateral engagement, building upon the commitments in the U.S.-China Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis, including incorporating methane reduction actions/targets in its 2035 Nationally Determined Contributions. Furthermore, China could link its methane-mitigation actions to its goals of mitigating the climate and other environmental impacts of its overseas investments.
  • China could strengthen national regulations and standards to control sectoral sources of methane emissions. This includes an immediate opportunity to promulgate more stringent national standards governing methane emissions in the coal-mining sector, in coordination with China’s broader policies on controlling coal consumption and improving coal mine safety. Additionally, China could undertake research that supports methane-emissions regulatory requirements for other key sectors, such as oil and gas.
  • Finally, China can promote methane-reduction pilot projects at the subnational level. This could build upon China’s plan to construct 100-zero waste cities during 2021-2025 and help set useful precedents for the deployment of sectoral methane-mitigation technologies and initiatives. Subnational pilots may eventually feed into nationally implemented programs or regulations.

China’s Ongoing Efforts to Address Methane Emissions and Opportunities to Further Raise China’s Methane Mitigation Ambition is here.