On May 6th, the United Nations Environment Program (U.N.E.P.) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (C.C.A.C.) released their Global Methane Assessment. The report outlines the detrimental impacts methane emissions have on the planet and the social, economic, and environmental benefits of reducing those emissions. The U.N.E.P. is calling for the global community to reduce methane emissions by 45% this decade, which, it says, could lead to reduced global warming, a reduction in smog and other air pollutants, a reduction in business costs, and an increase in quality of life.
The Global Methane Assessment requires international support through government and corporate action to achieve the outlined emission goals. Inger Andersen, the U.N.E.P.’s executive director, summarized the assessment: “Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next twenty-five years and complements necessary efforts to reduce carbon dioxide,” she said. “The benefits to society, economies, and the environment are numerous and far outweigh the cost. We need international cooperation to urgently reduce methane emissions as much as possible this decade.”
Curbing global methane emissions, which have been steadily increasing since the 1980’s, requires urgent action. A vast array of industries, including agriculture, energy, and waste management, produce methane emissions, which vary in quantity from region to region. Creating change and reducing these emissions is rapidly becoming a critical necessity in tackling global warming. “Methane accounts for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and, now that the world is acting to phase down hydrofluorocarbons through the Montreal Protocol, it is by far the top priority short-lived climate pollutant that we need to tackle to keep [a global average temperature increase limited to] 1.5ºC within reach,” Rick Duke, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy on Climate change, explained. “The United States is committed to driving down methane emissions both at home and globally – through measures like research and development, standards to control fossil and landfill methane, and incentives to address agricultural methane. We look forward to continued partnership with the C.C.A.C. on this crucial climate priority.”
By highlighting the frivolous and growing increase of global methane emissions and aiming to dramatically reduce them, the U.N.E.P. assessment offers insight into the potential for rapid, short-term global temperature control measures. Since methane naturally decomposes over roughly a decade, a significant drop in emissions will have tremendous positive impact on the fight against global warming. Decreasing methane emissions will provide direct, worldwide health and financial benefits.