At its sixth session held on 17-18 November 2003 the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal in Sustainable Development addressed the subject of Coal Mine Methane (CMM). Following the two background papers (ENERGY/GE.1/2003/4 and ENERGY/GE.1/2003/5) as well as a number of presentations treating on that matter delivered during the session, the secretariat put forward a proposal for establishment of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts focusing on CMM. It was noted that activities in the area in question would offer the opportunity for the Group to address not only the three pillars of sustainable development, notably economic, environmental and social, but also the image of coal (see para. 22 of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal in Sustainable Development’s 6th Session Report).
The Committee on Sustainable Energy at its fourteenth session held on 27-30 June 2005 endorsed both, the establishment of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane, as well as the program of its work (see section XI point (f) of the Committee’s 14th Session Report).
At its nineteenth session held on 24-26 November 2010, the Committee "approved that a recommendation be made to the Executive Committee of the UNECE to change its name to the Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane" (ECE/ENERGY/84 para. 26(b))
At the sixteenth session held on 3-4 March 2021, "[n]oting the request of the Committee on Sustainable Energy at its twenty-ninth session that its expert groups consider in their work the changing social, environmental, and economic contexts for their activities and the principles of a just transition, the Group of Experts agreed to revise its mandate and work to orient them with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and embrace the principles of a just transition (para. 27, ECE/ENERGY/GE.4/2021/2). The proposed revision was presented to the Committee at its 30th session on 22-24 September 2021.
At its 30th session the Committee "[a]pproved the change of name of the Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane to Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and Just Transition and also approved the change of mandate and terms of reference of the Group as contained in document ECE/ENERGY/2021/13." At the same time, the Committee also "requested that the Group of Experts consider the suggested clarifications in its mandate and terms of reference and to submit a revised version to the Thirty-first session of the Committee." (see para 79. of the Report from the 30th session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, ECE/ENERGY/137)
The Group did as requested, and at its 31st session the Comittee "[t]ook note of the clarifications made by the Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and Just Transition to its mandate and terms of reference, as per the Committee request, and recognized that process to be completed (ECE/ENERGY/2022/4)" (see para 84 of the Report from the 31st session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy, ECE/ENERGY/143)
The mandate of the Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and Just Transition (the Group of Experts) is to promote efficient environmentally sustainable transition of industries along the coal value chain ensuring the reduction of associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and social equity of the process through substantive, results-oriented activities that may help the recovery and use of methane in order to reduce the risks of explosions in coal mines in the context of climate change mitigation and to contribute to sustainable development, including the support of communities, local economies and the environment in the just transition process (ECE/ENERGY/GE.4/2022/2, para. 19).
Areas of work
- Reduction and management of methane emissions through for example recovery and use of methane from active, closed, and/or abandoned coal mines aimed at reducing the risks of explosions, mitigating climate change, and supporting sustainable development;
- For those countries or regions/states that choose to cease coal mining and related activities, offering support on request on preparation of coal mines and coal mining regions and communities for mine closure and reorientation of the local economies; and
- Environmentally sustainable transition and repurposing of mines and existing mining infrastructure and facilitating development of new profiles of economic activity and business models that preserve social cohesion and cultural heritage of the affected localities (ECE/ENERGY/GE.4/2022/2, para. 19).