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Cutting methane emissions is the fastest way to slow warming in the near term and keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C within reach. Methane plays an increasingly important role in China’s responses to climate change. This paper reviews a number of measures aimed at reducing its methane emissions China has adopted over the past few years and outlines significant opportunities remaining to maximize China’s climate mitigation impact.

Fast action to mitigate non-CO2 climate pollutants, such as methane, including through implementing methane intensity requirements (such as via procurement specifications) for domestic and imported oil and gas, can have a significant role in reducing the likelihood of triggering catastrophic climate impacts as countries pursue carbon-neutrality goals. Without robust monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) of methane emissions, we will not be able to know the efficacy of methane mitigation policies and programs or whether we are meeting methane mitigation targets. Acting quickly to ensure that new investments in oil and gas infrastructure are built with enhanced MRV systems and methane intensity requirements in mind is essential to limiting risks of stranded assets and aligning with carbon-neutrality goals.

The IGSD Primer on Cutting Methane provides decision-makers with clarity on the science of methane mitigation and why action is urgently needed; current and emerging mitigation opportunities by sector; national, regional, and international efforts that can inform emergency global action on methane; and financing initiatives to secure support for fast methane reduction. This Methane Primer provides the scientific and policy rationale for decision-makers to achieve the “strong, rapid, and sustained” cuts to methane emissions necessary to slow global warming in the near term and limit the risk of triggering tipping points. The Methane Primer also supports the need for research and development of technologies to remove methane from the atmosphere at scale.

The Global Methane Assessment shows that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade. Such reductions would avoid nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045 and would be consistent with keeping the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5˚C) within reach.

The assessment, for the first time, integrates the climate and air pollution costs and benefits from methane mitigation. Because methane is a key ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone (smog), a powerful climate forcer and dangerous air pollutant, a 45 per cent reduction would prevent 260 000 premature deaths, 775 000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat, and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually.