China tops dubious methane emitters’ list

India may continue to depend on its coal mines for a couple of more decades to meet its growing energy requirement but the country would still not be close to the top methane emitters among coal users such as China, Australia and Russia. India will, in fact, not emit even one-tenth of what the world’s biggest polluter China would be emitting during a 20 year period.

A new report on climate impact of methane emissions from proposed coal mines worldwide, said if new proposed coal mines across the globe proceeded as planned without mitigation measures in place, level of climate-damaging methane emissions would increase by 30% over current emissions.

Globally, all 432 proposed coal mines would emit 1,135 million tonnes of annual CO2-equivalent on a 20-year horizon. Methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after CO2, with a shorter atmospheric lifetime, but much stronger potency and warming potential.

The report, brought out by the Global Energy Monitor, noted that the proposed coal mines in China, United States, Turkey, Poland, and Uzbekistan could emit 40-50% of their greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane, making them among the gassiest proposed coal mines in the world.

“Coal mine methane has dodged scrutiny for years even though there is clear evidence it poses a significant climate impact. If new coal mines proceed as planned, without mitigation measures in place, then a major source of GHG will go unrestrained,” said Ryan Driskell Tate, a research analyst at Global Energy Monitor and author of the study.The countries with the highest amount of methane emissions from proposed coal mines are China (572 Mt), Australia (233 Mt), Russia (125 Mt), India (45 Mt), South Africa (34 Mt), the US (28 Mt), and Canada (17 Mt).

“The climate impact of methane emissions from proposed coal mines worldwide could rival the CO2 emissions from all US coal plants,” said the first-of-its-kind report that surveyed 432 proposed coal mines globally and modeled methane emission estimates at the individual mine level.

According to the Global Coal Mine Tracker which has estimated emissions at major operating mines, the world’s leading emitters are located in China, with major mines in Shanxi province releasing the most methane. Outside of China, gassy coal mines are operating in Poland, Indonesia, the US, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Australia.

“At major operating mines, the companies most responsible for global mine methane emissions rank among the world’s largest producers, including China’s National Energy Investment Group, Coal India, Glencore, China Coal, and Peabody Energy,” said the report.

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