An important section of the new IPCC report that made the headlines across global media, suggests that methane emissions have contributed to as much as 30-50% of the global temperature rise.
So far, most of the world’s efforts to combat climate change have been addressing CO2 emissions from human activities. And indeed, carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to global warming, as science has shown.
But with carbon being in the spotlight, methane (CH4) hasn’t gotten anywhere near the attention it may deserve.
Earlier in 2021, a large-scale UN study proved the impact that methane has on the environment, and this new report has demonstrated that the gas actually adds roughly 0.5C to the current warming.
Almost 2/3 of methane emissions are man-made
Further, the report outlines that while 40% of the world’s methane emissions are produced by natural sources, the remaining 60% results from human activities, such as agriculture, waste dumps, and, as the report emphasizes particularly, the natural gas industry.
A spike in methane emissions since 2008 has been traced back to the fracking rush in the US. And in 2019, the levels of CH4 in the atmosphere reached record highs.
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Scientists’ main concern with methane is its warming properties that over a 20-year period of time have been found to be 84 times higher than those of CO2.
There is one positive element in methane, compared to CO2, however, and that is it’s far less long-lasting in the atmosphere. The report’s authors have estimated that if we were to stop all methane emissions today, we could achieve the same CH4 levels in the air of 1750 by the end of this century.
In more realistic terms, the report suggests a 40-45% cut of methane emissions over the next decade could result in a 0.3C reduction in the global temperature by the year 2040.
A recent investigation revealed massive methane leaks in Europe. The investigation is still ongoing and is led by the Clean Air Task Force. James Turitto – the person who filmed the leaks visited 150 oil and gas facilities in seven countries with a $119,000 camera built to “see” methane in the air. Footage from it showed the release of large volumes of methane at 123 out of those sites.
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