UN: Fast methane discount key to curbing harmful warming

Rapidly and radically decreasing the extraordinarily potent greenhouse fuel methane is the world’s greatest hope for slowing and limiting the worst of world warming, in accordance with a brand new United Nations report.

If man-made methane emissions are minimize practically in half by 2030, half a level (0.3 diploma Celsius) of warming could be prevented by mid-century, in accordance with Thursday. report by the United Nations Environment program.

The report states that methane discount could be comparatively cheap and could possibly be achieved – by plugging leaks in pipelines, stopping pure fuel air flow throughout energy drilling, capturing fuel from landfills and decreasing methane from landfills. belching of livestock and different agricultural sources, which is the most important problem. .

As a result of methane helps create smog, decreasing annual fuel emissions by 45%, or practically 200 million tonnes (180 million metric tonnes), might doubtlessly stop round 250,000 deaths per yr worldwide from well being issues. of well being attributable to air pollution, mentioned the UN.

“It’s completely important that we deal with methane and that we deal with it rapidly,” mentioned Inger Andersen, director of the United Nations Setting Program, on Thursday.

Andersen mentioned with out methane and carbon dioxide discount the world couldn’t meet the Paris 2015 targets climate agreement. Lead writer of the research, Drew Shindell, professor of earth sciences at Duke College, mentioned the current acceleration in methane air pollution “takes us actually far” from the Paris targets.

Michael Oppenheimer, local weather scientist at Princeton College, who was not a part of the report and who co-wrote a study final week on fuel, known as methane “the perfect dial we will flip to gradual the speed of warming.”

Lowering methane could present short-term assist in the long-term effort to struggle world warming as a result of it’s stronger however has a shorter lifespan than carbon dioxide, Shindell mentioned.

Methane solely lasts a dozen years within the air whereas carbon dioxide stays for hundreds of years. Per molecule, methane traps dozens of instances the warmth of carbon dioxide. There may be 200 instances extra carbon dioxide within the air than methane.

“Should you assume we’re close to local weather tipping factors, methane reductions are one method to rapidly scale back warming,” mentioned Zeke Hausfather, local weather director of the Breakthrough Institute.

In Canada, stimulus spending is aimed toward controlling methane leaks, Andersen mentioned. In the USA, the White Home is engaged on new laws to regulate power manufacturing leaks, Biden administration local weather adviser Rick Duke mentioned on Thursday.

Shindell mentioned satellites are showing massive energy-related leaks, particularly in the USA and Russia.

“Persons are realizing that there’s a lot extra methane,” he mentioned. “There’s much more that comes from issues we all know we actually have management over and may do.”

About 60% of methane comes from human exercise, the remainder from wetlands and different pure sources, in accordance with the report. Of the man-made methane, about 35% leaks from drilling and transporting pure fuel and oil, 20% leaks from landfills, and 40% comes from agriculture, principally livestock.

The escaping pure fuel is price it, so capturing it from energy technology and landfills makes monetary sense, scientists say. “I consider each methane leak as an invisible stream of tiny greenback indicators,” mentioned Chris Area, director of environmental research at Stanford College.

The report says that decreasing meals waste, enhancing the way in which livestock are fed and adopting diets with much less animal merchandise can save the planet as much as 88 million tonnes (80 million metric tonnes) of methane per yr.

James Butler and three different scientists who research methane emissions for the US Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mentioned they concern current will increase in methane “are as a consequence of local weather change,” as warming temperatures might launch methane usually locked within the floor.


Comply with AP’s local weather protection on


Comply with Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears


The Related Press’s Division of Well being and Science receives help from the Division of Science Training on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely chargeable for all content material.

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