Reduce methane or face climate catastrophe, scientists warn

Exclusive: IPCC says gas, produced by farming, shale gas and oil extraction, playing ever-greater role in overheating planet

 

Reducing carbon dioxide is not enough to solve the climate crisis: The world must act quickly on another powerful greenhouse gas, methane, to stop the rise in global temperatures, experts warned.

Leading climate scientists will give their strongest warning yet, that we are rushing to the brink of climate catastrophe, in a landmark report on Monday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish its sixth assessment report, a comprehensive review of global knowledge about the climate crisis and how human actions are altering the planet. It will show in detail how close the world is to irreversible change.

One of the key action points for policymakers is likely to be a warning that methane is playing an increasingly important role in global warming. Carbon-rich gas, produced from animal husbandry, shale gas wells, and poorly managed conventional oil and gas extraction, warms the world much more efficiently than carbon dioxide; it has a “warming potential” more than 80 times that of CO2, but has a shorter life in the atmosphere, persisting for about a decade before it degrades into CO2.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and lead reviewer for the IPCC, said that methane reductions were likely the only way to avoid temperature increases of 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, beyond pre-industrial levels. which extreme weather will increase and “tipping points” could be reached. “Cutting methane is the biggest opportunity to slow warming by 2040,” he said. “We have to deal with this emergency.”

Zaelke said lawmakers should pay attention to the IPCC findings on methane ahead of the UN climate talks, Cop26, in Glasgow in November. “We need to see an acknowledgment of this problem at Cop26, that we have to do something about it.”

Reducing methane could balance the impact of phasing out coal, a key goal at Cop26 because it is the dirtiest fossil fuel and has led to sharp increases in emissions in recent years. However, the use of coal has a perverse climate effect: the sulfur particles it produces protect the earth from warming by deflecting some of the sunlight.

 

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