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292. Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions to Prevent Global Warming

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According to the Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions, a report published by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in May 2021, methane emissions from human activities could be reduced by up to 45% over 10 years, thus limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5˚C in line with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.

As mentioned in the report, methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and is responsible for about 30% of global warming. More than half of the world's methane emissions come from three sectors, namely, the fossil fuel sector (35% of anthropogenic emissions - oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution), waste sector (20% - landfills and wastewater), and agriculture (40% - 32% from livestock manure and enteric fermentation, 8% from rice cultivation). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario analysis, global methane emissions must be reduced by 40-45% in 2030, along with reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions.

The report emphasizes the urgent need for international action as anthropogenic methane emissions have increased rapidly since records began in the 1980s. While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the economy in 2020 and prevented a record year for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that atmospheric methane has reached record levels.

On the other hand, unlike CO2, which has been in the atmosphere for centuries, methane is easily broken down and mostly gone in a decade, making it possible to rapidly reduce the rate of global warming in the short term. The report states that methane emissions from human activities can be reduced by up to 45% in the next decade through technologies and means that already exist today, thus limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

This report also presents measures that can reduce methane emissions by 30% in 2030. Although mainly in the area of fossil fuels, most of these measures have low mitigation cost, and half of them are profitable for companies to implement. Furthermore, different countries and regions report various mitigation potential in different sectors, such as the waste sector in Europe and India, coal production and livestock in China, and livestock followed by oil and gas in Africa.

JIRCAS is developing technologies to reduce methane emissions from livestock and paddy fields in Asia, and is also leading an international research network on elucidating crop mechanisms that could contribute to nitrogen fertilizer efficiency.

References

The Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions
https://www.unep.org/resources/report/global-methane-assessment-benefit…

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
https://www.unep.org/

CCAC(Climate and Clean Air Coalition)
https://www.ccacoalition.org/en


Contributor: KANAMORI Norihito (Information and Public Relations Office)