Global Energy Monitor
  • Ryan Driskell Tate and Yedan Li

A boom in new coal mines and mine expansions commissioned in China since mid-2021 threatens to raise global methane emissions by 10%, according to our latest briefing. This explosion is at odds with pledges by China to reduce methane emissions over the rest of the decade.

In response to an acute domestic "energy crisis" at the end of last year, China commissioned new mining capacity that unleashed an estimated 2.5 million tonnes (Mt) of new coal mine methane emissions within a matter of months.

On top of the surge in new coal mine capacity last year, China has 559 Mtpa of new coal mine proposals under development, which is equivalent to the output of Indonesia (564 Mtpa), the world’s third largest coal producer.

The new mining activity raises concerns about China’s optimization and reformation plans – a yearslong attempt to reduce excess mine capacity at poorly performing operations.

China’s rate of mine closure and abandonment – or decapacity – averaged just 3.13% per year in that time. Yet China has plans to increase capacity by at least 14% on top of the ramp up at the end of 2021, and that’s not including projects the National Development and Reform Commission has signaled are forthcoming in 2022.

"China’s frenzy of new mine development is creating hundreds of new sources of methane emissions. While making recent strides to meet its climate goals, China still needs to reckon with the potential fallout from a short-term mining boom." 

Ryan Driskell Tate, report author

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