According to new research methane emissions must be reduced by up to 45% in this decade to try to achieve global warming management goals.
The report, which involves researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) of the University of York, is very categorical. There is no more time, if you do not start immediately, the Paris agreement is totally lost.
The agreement, which is already 6 and years old now, was signed by 200 countries and aims to keep global temperature rise within 1,5 ° C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century to help manage the effects of the climate change. Methane is produced when living things decompose and is a key ingredient in ground level ozone, a pollutant that is harmful to humans.
The research examines the costs and benefits of air and climate pollution that would follow methane mitigation. A 45% reduction would prevent each year 260.000 premature deaths, 775.000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion lost work hours due to extreme heat e 25 million tons of lost crops.
The co-author of the report, Dr. Johan Kuylenstierna area of SEI, said: “It is important to specifically focus on methane mitigation as part of climate action this decade, leading to further reductions until 2050. It is good that more and more countries are recognizing this. Reducing methane emissions is the main lever to slow the pace of global warming in the short term because it is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere ”.
But the report doesn't just show the benefits of the action: it also raises a very serious immediate alarm. And it clearly says the need for action is urgent as human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster than at any point since the start of the recordings in the 80s.
This is a concern because methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, responsible for around 30% of warming since pre-industrial times.
Methane emissions, deadly enemy
Unlike the CO2 which remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, methane begins to degrade rapidly. Most go away within a decade or so. This means that reducing methane emissions can now rapidly reduce the short-term warming rate. This is why it is important to act immediately.
The report states that the majority of man-made methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste e agriculture. He concludes that rapid and significant reductions in greenhouse gases are possible using existing technologies and a very low cost.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Program, said: “The benefits to society, economies and the environment are numerous and far outweigh the costs. We need international cooperation to urgently reduce methane emissions. And we have to do it as much as possible now, in this decade ”.