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2019-01-29. China’s Coal Plants Haven’t Cut Methane Emissions as Required, Study Finds.

posted Jan 30, 2019, 8:15 PM by Alan Gould
By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/29/climate/china-coal-climate-change.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3 and Climate Change chapter 3. Excerpt: China...has continued to produce more methane emissions from its coal mines despite its pledge to curb the planet-warming pollutant, according to new research. In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07891-7], researchers concluded that China had failed to meet its own government regulations requiring coal mines to rapidly reduce methane emissions, at least in the five years after 2010, when the regulations were passed. It matters because coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and China is, by far, the largest producer in the world. Coal accounts for 40 percent of electricity generation globally and an even higher share in China, which has abundant coal resources and more than four million workers employed in the coal sector. Scientists and policymakers agree that the world will have to quit coal to have any hope of averting catastrophic climate change. How quickly China can do that, therefore, is crucial. The Chinese government in 2010 required the state-run coal sector to reduce methane emissions by putting the gas to use — coal methane emissions can be used for power generation, for instance — or by capturing methane from mines and flaring it, which is still polluting, but not as much as releasing the gas into the atmosphere, according to the researchers. It required that 6.2 million tons of methane produced from coal mining be put to use by 2015. An examination of satellite data collected between 2010 and 2015 painted a different picture. Not only were the reductions not made, but Chinese methane emissions actually increased by 1.2 million tons per year during the five-year period. “Our study indicates that, at least in terms of methane emissions, China’s government is talking the talk but has not been able to walk the walk,” Scot Miller, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who led the research team, said in a statement.The study highlighted the difficulties China faces in reducing greenhouse gas emissions....