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Yes, it is possible to reduce methane emissions in the next 10 years

The most recent Global Assessment ensures that it is possible to reduce them by 45%, crucial for climate action.

Industrial machinery emitting gases

The Assessment focuses on the benefits that the reduction of methane emissions can bring, especially those generated by the fossil fuel industry, and also presents the costs that air pollution implies. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Sí es posible reducir las emisiones de metano en 10 años

On May 6, the Global Methane Assessment of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was published . The institutions ensured that the methane emissions produced by humans so far can be reduced by 45%, which would help keep the global temperature below 0.3 ° C by 2045 , which is in line with one of the most important objectives of the Paris Agreement: to limit global temperature by 1.5 ° C.

The Evaluation focuses on the benefits that the reduction of methane emissions can bring, especially those generated by the fossil fuel industry, and also presents the costs that air pollution implies, being the first to do this type of exercise . Among these main benefits are: "the rapid reduction of warming, which can help prevent dangerous climate tipping points; improved air quality that can save hundreds of thousands of lives; improve food security by preventing crop losses; and create jobs through mitigation efforts while increasing productivity through reduced heat stress ".

Also read: What will happen when the glaciers of Latin America completely melt?

According to the official UNEP press release, the 45% reduction would even prevent "260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion labor hours lost due to extreme heat and 25 million tons of crop losses per year. " Likewise, the three sectors where methane emissions most come from are indicated: fossil fuels (35%), waste (20%) and agriculture (40%).

The Evaluation has been well received by environmental leaders, who have assured that it is extremely important to take action both governmentally and industrially to achieve a reduction in the emissions of this hydrocarbon in the next decade . For Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, methane reduction helps complement efforts to reduce CO2. Rick Duke, Senior Advisor to the US Presidential Special Envoy on Climate Change, says methane is the main short-lived climate pollutant and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Kadri Simson, European Union Energy Commissioner, highlights the need to take action internationally.

And, according to the Assessment, human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster than they have increased since the methane footprint began to be recorded in the 1980s . Unlike carbon dioxide, which was reduced by the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, methane levels in the atmosphere reached their record, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Evaluation then presents measures that are easily accessible. 60% of the measures are low-cost and "50% of them have negative costs, which means that companies make money if they adopt them . The greatest potential for negative costs is in the oil and gas industry, where the Leak prevention and methane capture increase revenue, "the press release states.

One of the most important points covered in the Assessment is that while methane reduction is critically crucial in the race against climate change and the environmental crises we are currently facing, it must go hand in hand with CO2 reduction.