Let’s Talk About Methane and Climate Change

| November 4, 2022

One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to slow down global heating is to reduce methane emissions. That is because while methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, it remains in the atmosphere for a much shorter time. In-fact, did you know that over a 20-year period, methane is 80 times more potent at warming than CO2? Acting now to reduce methane emissions will have immediate benefits to the climate that reductions in CO2 emissions cannot do alone. 

Where does methane come from?

More than 60% of methane is produced by human activities, mainly agriculture, oil and gas production and distribution, and landfills. Livestock emissions – from manure and Gastrointestinal (GI) releases – account for roughly 32% of humane caused methane emissions. 

Why is methane so harmful?

Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year. Methane has accounted for roughly 30% of global warming since pre-industrial times. 

But there is still hope for a better tomorrow. According to the UN environment program, human-caused methane emissions could be reduced by as much as 45% within the decade.  This would avert nearly 0.3C of global warming by 2045. 

What is being done to address this problem?

The Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach teamed up to pilot a faster, cheaper way to find and assess methane leaks under roads and sidewalks and published a series of maps and how to help. To read more about this initiative, please visit: Maps of natural gas leaks – Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) 

Scientists are also experimenting with alternative types of feed to reduce the methane produced by cows and looking at different ways to manage manure, by covering it, composting or using it to produce biogas. The International Energy Agency estimates that world-wide, the oil and gas industry can reduce their methane emissions by 75% using technologies available today, and 2/3 of them at no net cost. 

Additionally, many individuals are taking action in their own communities to reduce methane emissions by transitioning to a more plant-based diet. 

How you can help!

Shifting towards plant-rich diets and embracing alternative sources of protein will help eliminate one of the main activities which causes methane, agriculture.  

To celebrate this month, World Vegan Month, right, visit Challenge 22 | Let’s try vegan! to start making a difference for the planet today!