23 January 2023

‘Double’ the climate impact of methane from metallurgical coal in steel production

A new report from energy think tank Ember, assesses data on coal mine methane (CMM) and steelmaking.


© Nick Nice /Unsplash

The report considers the steel industry’s current climate impact and how it might evolve under the IEA’s medium to long-term Global Energy and Climate Model scenarios.

According the report, mines producing coking coal emitted nearly 12 million tonnes of methane in 2021, according to the IEA. This is equivalent to nearly 990 million tonnes of CO2 using the IPCC’s 82.5 multiplier for methane’s 20-year climate impact versus carbon dioxide. Coking coal methane adds 27% to the CO2 emissions from the steel industry and can, in some cases, double the impact.

Plugging methane leaks is essential says the report. It states, ‘Highly polluting coal seams must remain unmined as some metallurgical coal is so gassy it can double a batch of steel’s warming effect. For the underground mines which continue operating, methane mitigation technologies are readily available.’

The report recommends that steel industry stakeholders:

  • Ensure CMM is included in calculations of the climate effect of steel which is produced using blast furnaces and that avoided CMM is considered as a benefit of steel which is produced using little or no coal.
  • Metallurgical coal mining companies should formulate an industry standard to implement emissions reductions targets and employ best practice monitoring, reporting and verification to evaluate progress.
  • Steel companies should only buy coal from companies that have a net-zero compatible plan to reduce coal mine methane.