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Large Methane Plume Spotted Near China Natural Gas Pipeline

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- A large plume of methane, the potent greenhouse gas that’s a key contributor to global warming, was spotted by satellite near a natural gas line in northeast China.

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The release was detected in Liaoning province near a China Oil & Gas Pipeline Network Corp. pipe that runs from the Dalian LNG terminal to Shenyang on Oct. 20. An emissions rate of 107 tons of methane an hour would have been required to generate the plume, according to an estimate from Kayrros SAS, which analyzed European Space Agency data.

The detection comes as a global effort to curb methane releases accelerates during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, with more than 100 countries signing a pledge to curb emissions of the potent greenhouse gas 30% by 2030. But some of the world’s biggest polluters including Russia, China and India haven’t joined the effort.

If the release lasted an hour at the rate estimated by Kayrros the plume would have had the same short-term climate impact as the annual emissions from more than 5,000 U.K. cars.

China Oil & Gas Pipeline Network, known as PipeChina, and the country’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Last week, when asked why the country hasn’t joined the global methane pact, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin said that it “attaches high importance to the control of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases” and that it “is ready to work with other parties to advance global cooperation” on reducing them.

Read more: Why the Low-Key Methane Pledge Is a Big Deal for the Climate

In March, China’s latest five-year plan included, for the first time, a pledge to contain the gas that traps roughly 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the initial 20 years after it is released.

Cutting emissions under the Global Methane Pledge is perhaps the biggest single thing governments can do to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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