China's Evolving Energy Governance: A Case Study of Mining Rights Disputes

28 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2012

See all articles by Yanmei Lin

Yanmei Lin

Vermont Law School; China University of Political Science and Law

Date Written: December 10, 2011


In the foreseeable future, China will likely continue its coal-dominated energy strategy. To ensure cleaner operations, improve mining safety, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, China has made a strong development plan to recover and utilize coalbed methane (CBM) and coalmine methane (CMM) since 2006. However, at the end of the 11th Five-Year plan in 2010, the output of CBM/CMM fell short of the planned targets. The disputes over the mining rights of CBM/CMM between local coal groups, central state-owned oil and gas companies, local governments and central governments significantly impeded development. This case study looks into these disputes and tries to unfold the complex relations between central and local actors in China’s energy governance.

This report begins by introducing the background behind CBM/CMM recovery disputes and the central ministries involved in regulating or promoting CBM/CMM development. It then analyzes the historical and legal causes of disputes in Shanxi province, the attempted efforts to resolve the disputes, and the impact of the conflict on local environment and energy use. The report then discusses proposed solutions and finally gives further analysis on issues of China’s energy governance.

In order to achieve its 12th Five-Year plan target in clean energy development, energy efficiency and greenhouse reduction, China should strengthen its energy and environment governance system to ensure targets will be met. Realizing a strategic policy requires serious consideration of the dynamic relations among powerful actors and the interests of local governments and the state-owned companies. It also requires new tools to improve the ability for regulators in Beijing to regulate and coordinate action on CBM/CMM.

Keywords: China, Energy, Governance Calbed Mehane (CBM), Coalmine Methane (CMM)

Suggested Citation

Lin, Yanmei, China's Evolving Energy Governance: A Case Study of Mining Rights Disputes (December 10, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Yanmei Lin (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States


China University of Political Science and Law ( email )

25 Xitucheng Rd
Haidian District

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