Coal Mine Methane Has Dodged Scrutiny For Year Even Though Tt Is The Second Biggest Contributor To Global Warming

India is amongst the top five emitters of methane with China, Australia, Russia and South Africa

Posted : 19 March, 2021
Author : Dr. Seema Javed
Coal Mine Methane Has Dodged Scrutiny For Year Even Though Tt Is The Second Biggest Contributor To Global Warming

Methane emissions and its impact on climate is becoming an increasing concern. Methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after CO2 yet the coal mine methane emissions have dodged scrutiny for years . Even though the world is becoming hotter due to climate change and global warming is impacting every country.  Although methane has a shorter life in comparison, it has a much stronger warming potential. 

A new report, launching today, estimates the amount of methane emission from proposed new coal mines around the world. The report is launched by Global Energy Monitor (GEM). India is among the top 5 emitters of methane with China, Australia, Russia and South Africa.

According to this report, methane emission from proposed coal mines across the world amounts to a total of 1,135 Mt of annual CO2-equivalent (CO2e) on a 20-year horizon and 378 Mt of annual CO2e on a 100-year horizon. The report also ranks gassiest operating coal mines from 6 countries - USA, China, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan.

The climate impact of methane emissions from proposed coal mines worldwide could rival the CO2 emissions from all U.S. coal plants, according to a new report from Global Energy Monitor. The first-of-its-kind analysis surveyed 432 proposed coal mines globally and modeled methane emission estimates at the individual mine level. Unless mitigated, methane emissions from these proposed mines would amount to 13.5 million tonnes (Mt) of methane annually, a 30% increase over current methane emissions.

Methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after CO2, with a shorter atmospheric lifetime. It has  much stronger potency and warming potential. During mining, fractured coal seams and surrounding strata emit methane into the atmosphere. Ryan Driskell Tate, a research analyst at Global Energy Monitor and author of the study, said: “Coal mine methane has dodged scrutiny for years even though there’s 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 greenhouse gas will go unrestrained.”

According to the report, coal mines currently under development would leak 1,135 Mt of annual CO2-equivalent (CO2e) on a 20-year horizon and 378 Mt of annual CO2e on a 100-year horizon. Based on a 20-year horizon, estimated emissions would exceed the annual CO2 emissions from U.S. coal plants (952 Mt in 2019).

The countries with the highest amount of methane emissions (CO2e20) from proposed coal mines are China (572 Mt), Australia (233 Mt), Russia (125 Mt), India (45 Mt), South Africa (34 Mt), the U.S. (28 Mt), and Canada (17 Mt). 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.

Dr. Seema Javed is an Environmentalist, Independent Journalist & Communication Consultant