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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 09 May, 2021

  • 10 Min Read

Methane Emissions- Global Methane Assessment & Climate Change

Methane Emissions- Global Methane Assessment & Climate Change

GS-Paper-3: Environment and climate change – UPSC PRELIMS – Mains Application

“Human-caused methane emissions must be cut by 45 per cent to avoid the worst effects of climate change, a new United Nations report has said

Such a cut would prevent a rise in global warming by up to 0.3 degrees Celsius by 2045, the report added. It would also prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits annually, as well as 25 million tonnes of crop losses. Human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster currently than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s.

Methane

Methane is gas that is found in small quantities in Earth's atmosphere. Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. It is flammable, and is used as a fuel worldwide. Methane is produced by the breakdown or decay of organic material and can be introduced into the atmosphere by either natural processes – such as the decay of plant material in wetlands, the seepage of gas from underground deposits or the digestion of food by cattle – or human activities – such as oil and gas production, rice farming or waste management.

Impact of Methane: 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. It is responsible for creating ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant.

*** The report was released by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Key points

  1. Carbon dioxide levels have dropped during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, methane in the atmosphere reached record levels last year, according to the data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  2. The report said this was a cause of concern as methane was an extremely powerful greenhouse gas. It was responsible for about 30 per cent of warming since pre-industrial times.
  3. However, cutting methane emissions can rapidly reduce the rate of warming in the near-term as the gas broke down quickly, the report said.
  4. Governments worldwide were aspiring to reduce methane. For instance, the European Commission had adopted the European Union Methane Strategy in October 2020. It outlined measures to cut methane emissions in Europe and internationally.
  5. Human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster currently than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s.

Major Sources

Fossil Fuel: Oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution accounted for 23% of methane emissions in the fossil fuel sector. Coal mining accounted for 12% of emissions. Fossil fuel industry had the greatest potential for low-cost methane cuts, up to 80% of measures in the oil and gas industry could be implemented at negative or low cost. About 60% of methane cuts in this sector could make money as reducing leaks would make more gas available for sale.

Waste: Landfills and wastewater made up about 20% of emissions in the waste sector. The waste sector could cut its methane emissions by improving the disposal of sewage around the world.

Agriculture: In the agricultural sector, livestock emissions from manure and enteric fermentation constituted for roughly 32% and rice cultivation 8% of emissions. Three behavioural changes — reducing food waste and loss, improving livestock management and adopting healthy diets (vegetarian or with a lower meat and dairy content) — could reduce methane emissions by 65–80 million tonnes per year over the next few decades.

Reduction Potential

Europe: Greatest potential to curb methane emissions from farming, fossil fuel operations and waste management. The European Commission had adopted the European Union Methane Strategy.

India: Greatest potential to reduce methane emissions in the waste sector.

China: Mitigation potential was best in coal production and livestock.

Africa: Its potential to reduce methane emission was in livestock, followed by oil and gas.

Benefits
Human-caused methane emissions must be cut by 45% to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Such a cut would prevent a rise in global warming by up to 0.3 degrees Celsius by 2045. It would also prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits annually, as well as 25 million tonnes of crop losses.

However, cutting methane emissions can rapidly reduce the rate of warming in the near-term as the gas broke down quickly.

Climate and Clean Air Coalition

Launched in 2019, It is a voluntary partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations committed to protecting the climate and improving air quality through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

**India is a member of the coalition.

United Nations Environment Programme: The UNEP is a leading global environmental authority established on 5th June 1972.

Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.

Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.

Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya.

Functions: It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.

India Initiative

Seaweed-Based Animal Feed: Central Salt & Marine Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) in collaboration with the country’s three leading institutes developed a seaweed-based animal feed additive formulation that aims to reduce methane emissions from cattle and also boost immunity of cattle and poultry.

India Greenhouse Gas Program: The India GHG Program led by WRI India (non-profit organization), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an industry-led voluntary framework to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The programme builds comprehensive measurement and management strategies to reduce emissions and drive more profitable, competitive and sustainable businesses and organisations in India.

National Action Plan on Climate Change: The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was launched in 2008 which aims at creating awareness among the representatives of the public, different agencies of the government, scientists, industry and the communities on the threat posed by climate change and the steps to counter it.

Bharat Stage-VI Norms: India shifted from Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms.

Source: DTE


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