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Global efforts sought for methane control

By HOU LIQIANG in Dubai, UAE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-05 09:38

The file photo shows a wind power plant in Zhangjiakou, North China's Hebei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

More work needed to monitor emissions of greenhouse gas, China's envoy says

Despite consistent efforts to control methane emissions, China is still confronted with huge challenges in tackling the heat-trapping gas which is much more potent than carbon dioxide, or CO2.

China has shown a strong willingness but it lacks the capability to control methane emissions, said Xie Zhenhua, China's special envoy for climate change, on Saturday at the Summit on Methane and other Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases, which was held on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations climate change conference in Dubai. Therefore, international cooperation is important to forge ahead in this regard, he said.

Since 2007 when China unveiled a national plan to cope with climate change, measures to control methane emissions have been included in various national five-year plans and other policy documents, said Xie.

China has also rolled out some key national research and development programs to support technology development for the control of methane emissions, as well as the collection of the flammable gas for utilization, he said.

After rectifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 2021, he said, China has introduced an import and export licensing system, and also made public a list of substances that are recommended to replace HFCs.

The country will fully implement an allowance-based HFCs' management mechanism, he added.

The Kigali Amendment, reached in 2016, aims to gradually phase down the consumption and production of HFCs based on the consensus that they are powerful greenhouse gases.

Xie said that China needs to make arduous efforts to ramp up work on the control of methane emissions and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. China needs to intensify efforts to improve statistics gathering, accounting and monitoring of methane emissions, he added.

More efforts are needed to strengthen laws, regulations and standard systems for methane control, he said.

'No easy job'

"It's not an easy job for China to forge ahead with the control of methane emissions and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. The work cannot be done overnight," he said.

China needs to make long-term efforts to carry out a lot of basic work and enhance capacity building, he said.

"I think many other developing countries are in the same situation as China," he said, "We are willing to do. But we have poor capability, and consistent efforts are still needed. We all need to intensify work in this regard through international cooperation."

Xie said China made public an action plan dedicated to methane emission control last month, and is willing to join hands with other nations to further improve its capability and proactively implement methane emission control measures in key sectors.

Jointly issued by 11 national government bodies, the plans vow a series of specific targets in different sectors.

Saturday's meeting is one of the latest moves by China and the United States to implement their Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis, which was made public after a meeting between Xie and his US counterpart, John Kerry, in Sunnylands, California.

Addressing the meeting, Kerry highlighted cooperation on methane emission control as a viable solution to tackle climate change.

"This year, we just learned yesterday, it was confirmed … it was the hottest year in history, human history that we measured," he said.

"Obviously, we understand it's important for us to be able to find cooperation here. No one country, no business anywhere in the world will solve this problem by itself. It will take the essence of multilateralism and global cooperation to be able to make this happen," he said.

Methane is 80 to 100 times more destructive than CO2 in its early years of release into the atmosphere. In the later years, it is still 20 times more destructive, he stressed.

Tackling methane is the "fastest, simplest, easiest, quickest, cheapest way to be able to make the gains we need to make to reduce the threat to the planet", he said.

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