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Our work on coal mine methane

Tackling methane emissions from coal mines is a quick win for the climate but often overlooked.

Cutting coal mine methane emissions with data and policy


Ember launched in 2020 with a focus on shifting the world from coal to clean electricity. While analysing the impact of coal power on the climate, it became clear that the massive methane emissions from coal mining were being overlooked and drastically underestimated.

We set up a specialist unit working on coal mine methane to galvanise action in the world’s biggest emitters, by using data and analysis to highlight the scale of the issue and the solutions.

Since launching this work in 2020, we’ve already had an impact in PolandAustralia and Indonesia, and with the global steel industry.

This issue is doubly overlooked. Methane is overlooked compared to carbon dioxide emissions. And methane emissions from coal mines in particular are being overlooked compared to the oil and gas sectors, and almost totally ignored in the steel industry.

Eleanor Whittle Ember's Programme Lead, Coal Mine Methane

The ambition required for 1.5C

Methane is a fast-acting greenhouse gas that is supercharging the climate crisis. Cutting methane emissions is one of the most effective ways to limit global warming in the near term. By 2030, coal mine methane emissions need to fall by three-quarters, according to the IEA . Around two-thirds of this will be achieved through a reduction in coal mining, as coal power falls rapidly and coal-fired steel begins to reduce. The remaining reductions will be achieved using technologies to tackle emissions from mines.
-75%
Fall in coal mine methane emissions required by 2030
42m
Tonnes of methane leaked from coal mines in 2022

Why the world must tackle coal mine methane

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01
Methane emissions make coal even dirtier 

Methane is a fast-acting greenhouse gas and traps 82.5 times more heat than carbon dioxide over 20 years, accelerating short-term global heating. Methane emitted during coal mining multiplies the climate impact of the coal burned to produce electricity and steel. Coal mining is often overlooked, despite having a similar methane footprint to the oil or gas sectors.

02
Tackling methane emissions from coal mines is a quick win for the climate

Methane emissions are relatively cheap, quick and easy to tackle from coal mines, but they have a staggering impact on the climate if left unchecked. Coal mine methane emissions must decrease by three-quarters by 2030 to keep 1.5C within reach. The world must redouble efforts to bring an end to the use of coal, while improving monitoring and mitigation of methane emissions, particularly with the gassiest mines.

Read more about coal mine methane

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