UNEP and CCAC suggest methane reduction actions for major emitters | News | SDG Knowledge Center


A publication by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) identifies actions to reduce man-made methane emissions, which are increasing rapidly and represent nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson said reducing methane is “the most powerful lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years”.

The Global Methane Assessment, published on May 6, 2021, shows that a 45% reduction is possible by 2030 – which would prevent nearly 0.3 ° C of global warming by 2045. It would also have significant health benefits, including preventing 260,000 premature deaths and 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits.

The technologies necessary for a significant reduction are already available, and such action is one of the most cost-effective strategies to rapidly reduce the rate of warming. The authors explain that methane in the atmosphere begins to break down quickly, unlike CO2, which means reduction efforts can slow global warming in the short term.

While about 40% of methane emissions come from natural sources, about 60% of them are of human origin. The report proposes actions to be implemented in the three sectors responsible for most of the human-made methane emissions: fossil fuels, waste and agriculture. A table proposes specific measures for each sector. For example, in the fossil fuel sector, the report recommends flooding abandoned coal mines and recovering the vented gas. The reduction of methane from abandoned mines (AMM) was also the subject of the 2019 orientations of a group of experts of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

In the waste sector, organic waste should not be landfilled and residential wastewater treatment should use secondary / tertiary anaerobic treatment with biogas recovery. In agriculture, the table identifies actions to reduce enteric fermentation in cattle and sheep, and suggests treating manure in biogas digesters, among other practices.

To produce the assessment, the authors modeled using global composition-climate models to assess changes in the Earth’s climate system and surface ozone concentrations resulting from reduced emissions of methane. The results of the assessment are also available on the web tool to aid decision which allows users to enter different methane emission reduction targets to calculate various benefits at the national level.

The CCAC and UNEP Global Methane Assessment follows the publication of the European Union strategy on methane in October 2020 to reduce methane emissions. The UNEP press release recalls that the Climate Leaders’ Summit convened by the United States in April 2021 resulted in several calls for methane reduction and announcements of plans to do so, including from Russia, France, Argentina and Viet Nam. The Net Zero Producers Forum established by the energy ministries of the United States, Canada, Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia intends to create methane reduction strategies.

A methane expert writes on the SDG Knowledge Hub identifies the High-level dialogue on energy in September 2021 as an opportunity to consolidate efforts to reduce methane emissions and to launch commitments and partnerships to this end. [Publication: Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions] [Executive Summary]

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