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New coal mine methane centre in Poland will save lives and tackle climate change

Published: 30 October 2015

Coal production, transportation, storage and use account for roughly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce these emissions, which heavily contribute to global warming, one of the more effective near-term options at the production stage is the capture and use of methane from coal mines.

In order to collect and disseminate best practices in sustainable methane management in coal mines, UNECE and Poland are establishing an International Centre of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane. Hosted by the Central Mining Institute in Katowice, the Centre will operate under the auspices of the UNECE Group of Experts of Coal Mine Methane. Through this Centre, UNECE will be able to engage with a wider community, including civil society, mining associations and decision-makers, in order to raise awareness on the challenges and opportunities in methane management.

UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach and Mr. Jerzy Pietrewicz, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economy on behalf of Mr. Janusz Piechocinski, Deputy Prime Minister Janusz Piechociński, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that calls for the Centre to start operations in 2016. This joint commitment is very timely, just a month before the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP-21), where the emissions of methane, the second most potent greenhouse gas, will also have to be tackled.

Christian Friis Bach said, “Coal is like a sponge soaked with methane, and all too often methane is the cause of deadly fires and explosions in coal mines. By promoting socially acceptable and environmentally responsible coal mine practices, the Centre can help save lives in coal mines around the world. In addition, methane from coal is a valuable energy source that we can use to heat homes or produce electricity. Capturing and using methane in coal mines will thus increase safety while also reducing global warming.”

State Secretary Pietrewicz added: “The Centre will put Poland on the map of climate change mitigation efforts. It is time for action. On-site training that provides concrete, hands-on learning experience is needed to translate good practices into tangible results. We invite all United Nations Member States that exploit coal mines to benefit from the expertise of the Centre.”

For more information, please contact

Mr Jean Rodriguez Chief, Information Unit, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe;
Tel. +41 22 917 27 27 or jean.rodriguez@unece.org

Mr Jacek Skiba, Vice Chair, UNECE Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane;
Tel. +48 32 324 6603 or jskiba@gig.eu 

Mr Maciej Bialek, Senior Expert, Mining Department, Ministry of Economy;
Tel. +49 22 693 55 26 or maciej.bialek@mg.gov.pl 


Note to Editors

The Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from coal mines. Its activities on recovery and use of methane reduce the risks of explosions in coal mines.

The proposed International Centre of Excellence on Coal Mine Methane supports capacity-building activities in United Nations Member States through dissemination of best practices in economically viable methane abatement and utilisation.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05