Global Methane Assessment launched by UNEP and CCAC

The United Nations recently launched the Global Methane Assessment. It was released by Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme. The Climate Clean Air Coalition is a global partnership of governments and non-state partners.

The report says that human caused methane emissions can be reduced by 45% in 2020-30. These reductions will help to avoid 0.3 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2045.

Key Findings

  • Methane is responsible for 30% of warming since the pre-industrial era.
  • The human-caused methane emissions come from oil and gas processing, fossil fuels, landfills and waste and agriculture.
  • In spite of economic slow down caused by COVID-19 pandemic, data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that the amount of methane in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2020.
  • Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries. Unlike Carbon Dioxide, methane breaks down quickly. Meaning, very few actions can rapidly reduce the rate of global warming caused by methane.
  • Methane accounts to one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Major Methane Emitters

The majority of methane emissions comes from the three major sectors as follows:

  • Fossil fuels: 35%
  • Landfills and waste: 20%
  • Agriculture: 40%

Solutions

The Global Methane Assessment identifies solutions that is capable of reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. These solutions mainly target the fossil fuel sector. They are as follows:

  • The potential to reduce methane levels are the highest in waste sector in India and Europe.
  • In China, the potential is in livestock and coal production.
  • In Africa it is in livestock and oil and gas.

Apart from these targeted measures, additional measures such as renewable energy, reduction in food loss and waste, increasing residential and commercial energy efficiency will help to reduce methane emissions

Methane

Methane is a short-lived climate pollutant. It contributes to the formation of ground level ozone.

Outcome

The assessment says that every million tonnes of methane reduced will help in achieving the following:

  • Prevent 1,430 premature deaths
  • Prevent losses of 145,000 tonnes of soybeans, wheat, rice and maize
  • Avoid annual loss of 400 million hours of work.
  • To achieve Sustainable Development Goals SDG 13 and SDG 2. SDG 2 is Zero Hunger.

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