The world needs to dramatically cut methane emissions to avoid worst of climate change, UN says
A landmark United Nations report has declared that drastically cutting emissions of methane, a key component of natural gas, is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global climate change.
The report, published Thursday by the Climate and Clear Coalition and the U.N. Environment Programme, represents a shift in the worldwide conversation on how to best address the climate crisis, which has focused on longer-term carbon dioxide reduction.
Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon and doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere before it breaks down. This makes it a critical target for reducing global warming more quickly while simultaneously working to reduce other greenhouse gases.
More than half of global methane emissions come from oil and gas extraction in the fossil fuel industry, landfills and wastewater from the waste sector, and livestock emissions from manure and enteric fermentation in the agricultural sector.
The world could slash methane emissions by up to 45% this decade, or 180 million tons a year, according to the U.N.’s Global Methane Assessment. Such a target will avoid nearly 0.3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2045 and help limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a goal of the Paris climate accord.
The report comes after methane emissions surged to record highs last year despite worldwide lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Methane emissions are also rising faster than ever since record-keeping began in the 1980s.
“Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years and complements necessary efforts to reduce carbon dioxide,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, said in a statement.#globalwarming #climatechange #climateemergency #climatecrisis #blueskyefoundation
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