Responsible for over 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions
Read time: 4 minutes
In this week’s issue you will learn about a gas that’s often ignored even though it’s a huge contributor to climate change: Methane
“Methane is estimated to be 80 times more effective than CO2, ton for ton, at trapping heat in the atmosphere in the 20 years after release” - NASA
Top Methane News 🗞️
The US is getting stricter on methane emissions: Right before COP27 Biden announced new methane regulations and $20 billion of new investments in methane reductions.
NASA finding methane super-emitters: In their latest mission they have pinpointed where methane leaks are coming from and provided insight to quickly address them.
China is closer to joining the global methane pledge: China is the largest methane emitter yet it hasn’t joined the pledge, already signed by 150 countries, to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
Let’s dive in 🧠
After CO2, methane (CH4) is the second most abundant man-emitted greenhouse gas. Yet nobody talks about it…
Here are the main differences between these gases:
• Stays in the atmosphere for centuries.
• Traps a smaller amount of heat consistently, decade after decade.
• 200 times less abundant than CO2.
• Stays in the atmosphere for about20 years.
• Does its damage quickly but soon fades away.
Because its powerful and short-lived compared to CO2, large reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on climate change
Which are the main sources of man-made methane emissions?
Wetlands: Due to the microbial activity methane is produced. Rice fields are huge man-made wetlands.
Ruminants: Cows, sheep, goats and other ruminants produce methane due to their unique digestion process
Landfills: Methane is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills.
Oil and Gas: FYI methane is the main component in natural gas. The fossil fuel industry emits methane in 3 main ways:
“Fugitive emissions”: Leaks that are not intended happen in gas pipelines, oil rigs, natural gas plants, etc. They hurt the planet and cost companies millions.
“Vented emissions”: Intended emissions usually due to safety issues such as maintenance of the infrastructure.
“Incomplete flaring”: Natural gas that cannot be used is burned instead of being sold or vented. The vast majority of the natural gas is converted into CO2 and water, but some portion may not be burnt and is released as methane.
Reducing methane is a low-hanging fruit.
One of the cheapest, fastest, and easiest ways to stop climate change.
Solving it gives us more time to fix the other issues with CO2.
The International Energy Agency estimates we could reduce methane emissions from oil and gas by 75% by 2030 using existing technology. And 40% could be basically free!
As easy as tightening a bolt or closing a valve.
Why aren’t we tackling the problem?
Sanctions: Until recently none of these leaks or careless methane emissions were sanctioned so companies didn’t care.
Knowledge: Methane is colorless and odorless so many companies don’t even know how much is leaking. You need special equipment that can pick up infrared radiation of methane’s wavelength.
Money: Some companies prefer investing in activities that bring shorter term profits and some also lack the infrastructure to deal with the problems.
Top Methane Companies 💰
One for each the main methane issues :)
GHGSat: They have created really small satellites that can detect methane leaks with amazing detail from really far distances. They tell the emitters so they can reduce leaks to save money and emissions.
Loci: They install devices in landfills to collect methane emissions and send the gas to treatment plants. Their system captures 50,000 metric tons per year at a single project.
CH4 Global: They grow a specific type of algae and turn it into a food supplement for cows. This reduces the cows’ methane emissions by over 90%.
❗Extreme knowledge area❗
All the methane details: The International Energy Agency’s tracker contains everything you need to know about methane in 2022 (strategies, stats, graphs, etc.)
For video lovers: Here’s a video about the methane issue and how methane emissions hunting works. I highly recommend the channel.
Methane mapping: The latest case studies and data on methane and CO2 emissions.
That’s it for today, 1 climate tech topic in under 5 minutes.
Next week… Offshore Wind! 🤯
If you enjoyed today’s issue, the best compliment you could pay me would be to share it with one person who you think would benefit from it :)
Subscribe to learn about climate tech topics explained in simple terms every week 🎉