Great But Distracts From CO2
Leading an alliance of more than 100 countries, the Global Methane Pledge was launched at the ongoing UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow to cut down on emissions from methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short time by 30% between 2020 and 2030. While most developed economies and many developing ones signed up for the pledge, big polluters including China, India, Russia, Australia, Turkey and South Africa did not.
According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, methane accounts for about half of the 1.0 degree celsius net rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial era. Methane escapes into the atmosphere in various ways including the process of producing coal, oil and gas from landfills and from agriculture. Each molecules added to the atmosphere is about 26 times more potent at warming than a CO2 molecule, but only remains in the atmosphere for about a decade.
According to the International Energy Agency more than 75% of methane emissions can be mitigated with the technology that exists today, and that up to 40% of this can be done at no additional costs. Other ways to cut methane include capturing emissions from landfill site to burn for electricity and changing the diet of cattle or reducing the headcount.
The pledge is held as "game-changing." Observers say that the new effort on methane marked important progress on curbing climate change. Critics view that efforts should go towards CO2 reductions. Fighting at two fronts might lead nowhere. It is great that methane is having it day at COP26 but we should keep in mind why we are at Glasgow.
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