The Gasses That Will Make or Break Climate Change Mitigation
New worldwide attention on methane has increased the potential for countries to implement methane policy in the energy sector. In November 2021, the countries gathered at COP 26 in Glasgow launched the Global Methane Pledge, an agreement that aims to reduce methane emissions at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. If the 111 participating countries are successful, this endeavor could curb over 8 gigatons of carbon equivalent emissions and prevent more than 0.2 degrees Celsius in warming by 2050.
Barry Rabe, professor at University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and author of “Can We Price Carbon?,” discussed the surprising shift in global attention to methane gas at a Ohio University presentation on short-lived climate pollutants. Rabe said that until recently he had been skeptical that international efforts to address methane would lead to GHG emissions reductions—but the recent surge in global attention changed his perspective.
“I’ve rarely had this happen in my career. I wrote a first draft of this paper that’s going to be published soon, in July, and it was actually a pretty cynical paper,” Rabe said. “I am now, with days left on my deadline, dramatically rewriting…because the world has changed. I’ve never seen this kind of change in anything I’ve been writing about. And it has nothing to do with me prompting it…I think methane politics is changing in the United States.”
Studies attribute up to a third of all global warming to a subset of greenhouse gasses that have a lifespan of fewer than twenty years in the atmosphere, said Rabe. “If you release a ton of methane into the atmosphere, it has 87 times the global warming power over an equivalent amount of carbon during its first two decades in the atmosphere.”
The most common short-lived climate contaminates are black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
New worldwide attention on methane has increased the potential for countries to implement methane policy in the energy sector. In November 2021, the countries gathered at COP 26 in Glasgow [...]
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