Global methane emissions soared in recent years, raising alarms that we will be unable to avoid the most harmful impacts of global warming, new research shows. The findings, published Tuesday in Earth System Science Data and Environmental Research Letters, show that more than half of the methane, an ultra-potent greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere now comes from human sources. While agriculture is responsible for most anthropogenic methane emissions, fossil fuels accounted, proportionately, for the majority of methane pollution increases from 2000 to 2017 (the latest year for which data were available). In North America, 80% of the increase in methane emissions was driven by fossil fuels, and the U.S. fracking boom in particular. Reducing methane pollution in that sector will require plugging leaks and cutting fugitive emissions from oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines and abandoned wells.
Also Tuesday, a report from the Sierra Club and EarthJustice, cast doubt on gas industry efforts to promote what it calls “renewable natural gas” — gas derived from agriculture waste and synthetic processes — as a means to head off electrification efforts. “The space for outright climate denial is gone now,” Sasan Saadat, a research and policy analyst at Earthjustice told Politico’s Morning Energy. “Fossil fuel incumbents have to get more sophisticated with how they advocate around extending reliance on their product. Renewable natural gas, as they call it, doesn’t actually have a viable route to making them consistent with the net-zero-emission society.” (Global methane pollution: (New York Times $, The Guardian, Reuters, Grist, NBC; Gas report: Politico, Denver Post, Grist, Mountain Town News, DeSmog)