In an effort to slow global warming, the European Union and the United States want to significantly reduce methane emissions. The EU and the US today presented a plan in which they promise to emit 30% less methane by 2030 than in 2020.
The greenhouse gas methane (CH4) is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2) and is responsible for about a quarter of current global warming. It is mainly released during the production of oil and gas, but agriculture, animal husbandry (cows) and waste treatment are also major producers of methane. The intention to reduce methane emissions could have major consequences for these sectors, reported Reuters News Agency earlier.
Stop global warming
The contribution of methane to climate change is increasingly under the microscope. Greenhouse gas is seen as both a problem and a solution. The “lifespan” of methane is much shorter than that of CO2, which remains active for tens or even hundreds of years. But during this shorter period, gas contributes more to global warming than CO2. The advantage: Reducing methane emissions has a relatively rapid effect on the rate and extent of global warming.
This is not the only advantage according to US President Joe Biden. Commenting on the plan, Biden said the reduction in methane emissions would also benefit public health.
According to a recent UN study, a sharp reduction over the next ten years could ultimately save 0.3 degrees of global warming. “It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s huge,” said Jonathan Banks of Clear Air Task Force, an organization that advocates for stricter methane legislation. In addition, the rate of heating can be slowed down. “We can save time with this. It makes it more likely that we will have irreversible problems tipping points as can prevent the melting of the ice caps. So that’s a really big step, ”Banks said.
Ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in November, the to push on countries to announce more measures to limit global warming. Last month, the UN climate panel, the IPCC, argued in its report already before tackling methane. According to the authors, it will be virtually impossible to limit warming to one and a half degrees without a rapid and sharp reduction in methane. The concentration of methane has not been so high for 800,000 years, climate scientists conclude.
“The other countries must participate”
The intention of Washington and Brussels to reduce methane emissions by thirty percent is not legally binding. There are therefore no consequences if the objective is not reached. The EU and the US are calling on other major methane emitters such as China, Russia, India and Brazil to join the plan. New legislation to reduce methane emissions will also be introduced later this year in the US and the EU. For example, oil and gas companies might be required to detect and repair methane leaks at their refineries.
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