Global Methane Assessment Report – UPSC GS3

Climate and Clean Air Coalition(CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report titled “Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions”.
Objective: The report has suggested that the world needs to dramatically cut methane emissions to avoid the worst of climate change.
Key Findings of the Global Methane Assessment Report:
Increase in Methane Emissions:
  • Currently, Human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster at any other time (since record keeping began in the 1980s).
  • Carbon dioxide levels have dropped during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Methane in the atmosphere reached record levels last year.
  • This is a cause of concern as methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas.
  • It is responsible for about 30% of global warming since pre-industrial times.
Source of Methane Emissions:
  • More than half of global methane emissions stem from human activities in three sectors: fossil fuels (35%), waste (20%) and agriculture(40%).
  • Fossil fuel sector: Oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution account for 23%. Coal mining alone accounts for 12% of emissions.
  • Waste sector: Landfills and wastewater make up about 20% of global anthropogenic emissions.
  • Agricultural sector: Livestock emissions from manure and fermentation represent roughly 32%. Further, rice cultivation accounts for 8% of global anthropogenic emissions.
What needs to be done?
  • Human-caused methane emissions must be cut by 45% to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
  • Such a cut would prevent a rise in global warming by up to 0.3 degrees Celsius by 2045.
  • It would also prevent 26 lakh premature deaths, 77 lakh asthma-related hospital visits annually as well as 25 million tonnes of crop losses.
  • Further, three human behavioural changes could reduce methane emissions by 65–80 million tonnes per year over the next few decades. The behavioural changes are:
    • Reducing food waste and loss
    • Improving livestock management and
    • Adopting healthy diets (vegetarian or with a lower meat and dairy content).
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