CO2 is not the only cause of global warming according to a report in this week’s Economist.
“About a quarter of the effect is a consequence of a different gas, methane. And the methane problem looks a lot more tractable in the short term than does the carbon-dioxide one.
Going after methane, a compound of one carbon atom with four hydrogens, makes sense, for it is a potent greenhouse agent. Over the 20 years subsequent to its emission a tonne of methane causes 86 times more warming than does a tonne of CO2. Also, it does not hang around. It has a half-life in the atmosphere of about a decade, so what is released soon vanishes.
Roughly 50-60% of the 880 m tonnes of methane emissions released into the atmosphere between 2008-2017 came from human activities.
“Of these, roughly speaking, fossil fuels and agriculture each account for a third with the remainder coming from a combination of emissions from things like cars, fires, landfills and waste-water processing.”
A combination of bottom-up and top-down (satellite) technology is being used to gather data on emissions whilst research is continuing into land irrigation and alternative animal diets for reducing agricultural emissions.
The article concludes:
“Better, more transparent data do, generally, lead to better outcomes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change envisages a 35% drop in methane emissions below 2010 levels by 2050. The IEA’s numbers suggest that 14% of this is possible in the oil and gas sector alone, at no net cost. Anything on top of that would help offset failures (which seem likely) to limit CO2.”
Click here for the full article with a link to the original beneath it.
Interestingly, the article from the Economist was preceeded by a press release from Rolls Royce entitled "Use of green methane in transport and power generation – researchers and industry present interim results of the MethanQuest project" dated 18th March 2021.
Please click here for the full press release: