While climate discussions often center on reducing the greenhouse gas CO2, negotiators at the upcoming COP28 meeting in Dubai are set to focus on another critical emissions target — methane. This potent yet short-lived gas plays a key role in the urgent global effort to swiftly cut emissions and combat climate change, particularly due to significant leaks from fossil fuel infrastru
Methane, the second-largest contributor to climate change, accounts for approximately 16 percent of the warming effect. Although it remains in the atmosphere for only about 10 years, its warming impact is 28 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year timescale and 80 times over 20 years.
The majority of methane emissions (around 60 percent) are linked to human activity, with agriculture being the largest contributor, responsible for roughly a quarter of emissions. The energy sector, including coal, oil, and gas, is the second-largest source of human-caused methane emissions.
Addressing methane emissions presents a significant opportunity for climate action. Rapid cuts in methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector alone could prevent up to 0.1 degrees Celsius of warming by mid-century, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Achieving this involves repairing leaky infrastructure, eliminating routine flaring and venting during pipeline maintenance, and modifying animal diets in agriculture.
The blog also discusses the Global Methane Pledge, a joint EU-US initiative launched in 2021, aiming to reduce worldwide methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. However, notable absentees like China, India, and Russia highlight the need for broader global engagement. The upcoming COP28 is seen as an opportunity to strengthen the methane pledge, with calls for a formalized reduction target of around 60 percent in the energy sector.
As countries, including the United States and China, incorporate methane into their climate action plans, and oil and gas giants propose commitments to achieve zero emissions, the focus on methane at COP28 becomes increasingly pivotal in the global effort to address climate change.