Methane reduction holds key to averting climate catastrophe

Halting known sources, such as leaky oilwells, could slash projected emissions by half by 2030

Methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in heating up Earth on a 20-year timescale. Yet, just as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere keep rising, despite everything our governments claim they are doing to curb it, so do levels of methane. This dangerous gas is now at two and half times pre-industrial levels.

While it is known that oil and gas production, farming and degrading rubbish are the main producers of methane, scientists say most countries still estimate their output and have no accurate measurement of how much they produce. Even so, stopping known sources, such as leaky old and new oilwells, would decrease projected emissions by half by 2030, shaving 0.5C off global temperature rise by 2100.

Although some ideas, such as reducing farm animals’ burping by changing their feeding habits add to costs, others, such as trapping gas and burning it as fuel rather than venting it into the atmosphere, would make money.

About a third of the measures scientists say are needed by 2030 to halve emissions would be at no net cost. With the planet close to dangerous climate change, and the evidence of extreme weather events always in the news, it seems surprising politicians continue to do so little to slow methane emissions.

Contributor

Paul Brown

The GuardianTramp

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