Students display costumes made from recycled newspapers and paper plates in Handan, Hebei province, on Tuesday, ahead of the National Low Carbon Day on Wednesday. (HAO QUNYING/FOR CHINA DAILY)
China's top environmental watchdog has pledged to make a greater effort to control emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, by enhancing monitoring capability and drafting an action plan.
"To meet domestic and international needs for tackling climate change, the ministry will list methane as a key target in its work of controlling non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases," Jiang Zhaoli, deputy head of the department of climate change at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a forum on Wednesday recognizing National Low Carbon Day.
Methane is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the earth.
While conducting research on major sources of methane and reduction of emissions, the ministry will also endeavor to get more exact data through monitoring to serve decision-making, he said.
"On the basis of research we have done, we will join hands with authorities that oversee the relevant industries, local governments, research institutes and NGOs to promote the work and establish monitoring standards and method systems," Jiang said.
An action plan will be drafted and, in the following two to three years, the ministry will cooperate with major participants in the oil exploration, refining and retailing sectors to draft efficient policies and measures, he said.
He also said joint campaigns with major coal producing regions will be launched to reduce emissions in coal mining. The emissions in agriculture and solid waste disposal sectors will also be targeted.
According to Xu Huaqing, director-general of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, about 55.3 million metric tons of methane were emitted in China in 2014, the equivalent of 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.
He said the energy sector contributes 44.8 percent of methane emissions, with agricultural production activities second at 40.2 percent.
At the forum, the Institute for Sustainable Development Goals, Tsinghua University and the Environmental Defense Fund, an NGO headquartered in the United States, launched a platform for methane emissions reduction.
With an aim of realizing zero or near zero methane emissions in China in 2050, the platform was established to facilitate exchange and cooperation, and promote building capacity to reduce methane emissions.
According to the ministry, China has made great achievements in carbon reduction. In 2018, China's carbon intensity - the amount of emissions per unit of GDP - was about 45.8 percent below that of 2005, which means that it has fulfilled its goal to cut the level by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.
The ratio of energy from nonfossil fuel in the national primary energy structure increased to 14.3 percent.
China plans to further decrease the intensity metric by 60 to 65 percent and increase the ratio of nonfossil fuel to 20 percent by 2030.