China Nears Climate Agreement with the US, Unveils Vague Methane Reduction Strategy

China Nears Climate Agreement with the US, Unveils Vague Methane Reduction Strategy

Beijing - On Tuesday, China unveiled its long-anticipated methane reduction plan, a commitment it had made back in 2021. After a two-year delay, the release of this plan signifies that Beijing is progressing toward a potential new climate agreement with the United States.

China, as reported by Reuters, is the largest contributor to climate-warming methane emissions, accounting for over 14 percent of global emissions. However, the much-anticipated plan revealed on Tuesday does not specify any concrete targets. Instead, it outlines objectives for reusing methane as a fuel source.

According to the plan published by China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the nation pledges to reduce "flaring," the practice of burning off emissions at oil and gas wells. It also commits to addressing methane leaks in coal mines and enhancing methane control in agriculture and waste management.

The plan has been met with disappointment by political analysts. China had previously promised at COP26 in Glasgow to collaborate with the US on measuring and mitigating methane emissions, but the newly released strategy lacks specificity.

Yan Qin, the lead carbon analyst at Refinitiv, a UK-based company providing global financial market data, expressed concerns about the plan's lack of clear objectives, stating that it contains primarily descriptive text without specific targets for reducing methane emissions.

Nonetheless, some observers view the plan's release as a "golden opportunity" that could signal the potential for a new climate agreement involving China on the horizon. Leaders of the two nations are expected to convene at the APEC summit in San Francisco the following week. During the Glasgow climate summit, both countries had agreed to establish a working group focused on climate action.

Li Shuo, a climate analyst and the incoming director of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Society, suggested that the plan's release might "pave the way" for a joint statement from the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters.

The reduction of methane emissions is of paramount importance, as methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change, with a warming potential approximately 100 times that of carbon dioxide. Addressing methane emissions is regarded as a critical step in mitigating climate change in the short term.

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