Methane has the major flaw of generating a very strong impact on global warming, much more than carbon dioxide. On the other hand, it has a much shorter lifespan in the atmosphere. Acting on this gas would make it possible to have a significant impact, and especially rapid.
Possible solutions …
Methane (CH4) has a 25 times more heating power to that of carbon dioxide (CO2) and therefore embodies a real problem. However, this gas has a life of only 12 years compared to a century for CO2. In order to obtain a very rapid positive effect on global warming, it would therefore be wise to tackle this type of emissions. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has published a report on May 6, 2021 bringing good news on the matter. The authors of the document say they have identified different solutions allowing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and therefore of methane.
First of all, the UNEP experts gave some figures. More than half of the emissions of global methane emissions originate from activities in three areas : fossil fuels (35% of human emissions), waste (20%) and agriculture (40%). As far as waste is concerned, most CH4 emissions come from wastewater and surface landfills. In agriculture, emanations from cattle come out on top, followed by those from rice cultivation.
… simple, inexpensive and effective
While the priorities are not the same for all countries, UNEP believes that there are solutions in each area. In the fossil fuel sector, rigorous inspections of the installations can make it possible to identify leaks, and if necessary to seal them. There is also the possibility of reducing methane emissions from coal mines by flooding abandoned sites. With regard to agriculture (and livestock), changes in the human diet could have a fairly significant impact on CH4 emissions from livestock. It is therefore particularly a question of consuming less meat and other dairy products. When it comes to growing rice, composting straw and using hybrid varieties are options to consider.
The positive point of the measures cited is none other than the absence of heavy investment in order to put them in place. The authors of the report speak of a significant impact without necessarily costing more money. In the meantime, the promises are great. Experts estimate that existing abatement techniques could reduce emissions from the oil and gas industry by 29 to 57 million tonnes (Mt) per year. Other figures: between 12 and 25 million for coal, and between 29 and 36 Mt per year for waste.
Doing so would reduce methane emissions from human activities by 45% (180 million tonnes per year). Finally, experts believe that this is an opportunity to avoid 0.3 ° C warming by 2040.