Rapid and dramatic methane pollution cuts could slow global warming and prevent a quarter-million deaths every year, a new UN report says. Methane is a far more potent heat trapping gas than carbon dioxide, and its short lifespan in the atmosphere means that slashing pollution nearly in half by 2030 could prevent a half-degree (0.3°C) by the 2040s — but failing to reduce methane pollution could put the Paris Agreement’s goals out of reach. The report also says doing so would be relatively inexpensive and is possible with currently available technology, like fixing leaks in gas pipelines and stopping venting in gas drilling.
Methane pollution is rising faster than at any point on record, driven in significant part by oil and gas extraction (methane is the main ingredient of so-called natural gas), agriculture operations, and landfills. “If we want to reduce the rate of warming in the near term, methane is the way to do it,” Johan Kuylenstierna, research leader at the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of more than 20 experts who authored the report, told Reuters. (AP, Reuters, The Guardian, BBC, Axios, E&E $, Politico Pro $, FT $, AFP, The Conversation, CNBC, The Hill, The Independent, The Verge)