Nearly a month has passed since President Biden announced a new initiative to cut methane emissions on a global scale, and over 30 countries have joined that initiative. Together, they represent 60% of the global economy.
The goal of this pledge is for countries to reduce methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade (2030). While carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas, methane represents the most impactful in the short term.
A significant reduction of methane emissions will help reduce the impact of climate change while nations race towards net-zero emissions.
Methane Emissions Are Rising Rapidly
While natural gas has been used around the world for centuries, it always played second fiddle to coal. That is until the early 2000s when it finally surpassed coal.
There were many advantages of the world switching from coal to natural gas that remain accurate today. These include less air pollution, it’s cheaper, and more efficient, to name a few. Yet, there was one drawback most were unaware of: methane emissions.
It is true that natural gas releases fewer carbon emissions than coal or other sources, but it also releases a second greenhouse gas.
This gas is released during the extraction process, and can even leak out of gas lines during the processing. When taking a look at the link between rising methane emissions and widespread adoption of natural gas, the link is clear.
They are related, and it is having a huge impact. In fact, 30% of global warming can be attributed to methane.
Some of It Is Natural
It’s important to always mention that methane emissions are found in many natural sources. That said, most of the focus is on the sources from humans.
And there is a good reason as to why humans have eclipsed what nature produces.
Before natural gas became the dominant force in the energy sector, methane emissions from nature were in the lead. They came from sources like wetlands or volcanoes.
Yet, in roughly two decades, man-made emissions have skyrocketed.
And the problem isn’t solely natural gas. Many have become aware that livestock is a huge component of methane emissions, particularly cows. In fact, you may have even seen many articles talk about cow farts and burps.
It sounds like a joke, but it’s not. When you have over a billion cows in the world, tiny amounts like that add up. And there is no way the population would ever have gotten that high naturally.
It’s a human problem.
More Nations Are Likely to Join and Cut Methane Emissions
With most of the major players around the world joining this initiative, it’s very likely that more nations will join, especially ahead of the next climate summit in November. And that was the intent of announcing it ahead of the summit.
Like most of the global initiatives that have been successful like the CFC ban or Paris agreement, once the majority of nations join, it inadvertently forces the other nations to comply. At least to a certain degree.
After the climate summit happens, time will tell.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.