Benefits and costs of mitigating methane emissions

Global Methane Assessment key findings

Reducing human-caused methane emissions is one of the fastest, most cost-effective strategies to reduce the rate of warming and contribute to global efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. 

Global action to reduce methane emissions has additional benefits for human health, food security and ecosystems, as it can curb the formation of tropospheric ozone, an air pollutant with multiple harmful impacts.  

As human-caused methane emissions continue to increase, there are more reasons than ever to reduce methane emissions this decade. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition and UN Environment Programme's Global Methane Assessment shows that we have the technologies and policy frameworks to do so cost effectively and with immediate benefits to society.

Key findings:


The atmospheric concentration of methane has more than doubled since pre-industrial times. 

Methane is second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in driving climate change. More than half of global methane emissions stem from human activities in three sectors: fossil fuels (35% of human-caused emissions), waste (20%) and agriculture (40%).

Mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions. 

The majority of the major abatement potentials can be achieved at low cost, less than US$ 600 per tonne of methane, especially in the waste sector and coal subsector in most regions and the oil and gas subsector in North America.


The relatively short atmospheric lifetime of methane, combined with its strong warming potential, means that actions to reduce emissions can provide benefits within a few decades.

Quick action would help limit dangerous climate feedback loops, while simultaneously delivering important health and economic benefits from reducing tropospheric ozone.

To put the world on a path consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5˚C target, methane emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 relative to projected levels (~35-40% relative to current emissions). 

This can be achieved using solutions available today. Targeted methane measures can reduce 2030 emissions by 30%. Additional measures that do not primarily target methane can reduce 2030 emissions by ~15%.


More than 60% of available targeted measures have low mitigation costs, and roughly half of those have negative costs.

The bulk of identified methane abatement controls cost less than the societal benefits of $4,300 per tonne of methane.

Reducing methane emissions by 45% by 2030 would offer immediate and long-lasting multiple benefits not only for the climate, but also agriculture, human and ecosystem health.

Every year, these benefits would be equal to a global saving of approximately US$470 billion.


Trends in methane emissions need to be reversed now to achieve a multitude of benefits by 2030. Targeted measures can be rapidly deployed to reduce methane emissions from the fossil fuel and waste sectors, with a majority at negative or low cost.

To achieve targets consistent with keeping warming to 1.5°C, a combination of targeted measures and additional measures which reduce methane but do not primarily target it, are needed for all sectors.

Targeted methane measures (~30% reduction potential)

Oil and gas

Average cost per tonne of methane reduced: $520

  • Upstream and downstream leak detection and repair
  • Recovery and utilization of vented gas
    • Capture of associated gas from oil wells
    • Blowdown capture
    • Recovery and utilization of vented gas with vapor recovery units and well plungers
    • Installation of flares
  • Improved control of unintended fugitive emissions from the production of oil and natural gas
    • Regular inspections (and repair) of sites using instruments to detect leaks and emissions due to improper operations
    • Replace pressurized gas pumps and controllers with electric or air systems
    • Replace gas-powered pneumatic devices and gasoline or diesel engines with electric motors
    • Early replacement of devices with lower-release versions
    • Replace compressor seals or rods; cap unused wells
Coal mines

Average cost per tonne of methane reduced: $190

  • Coal mine methane management
    • Pre-mining degasification and recovery and oxidation of ventilation air methane
    • Flooding abandoned coal mines
Solid waste management

Average cost per tonne of methane reduced: $-2,900

  • Residential source separation with recycling/reuse
    • No landfill of organic waste
    • Treatment with energy recovery or collection and flaring of landfill gas
  • Solid waste management - industrial
    • Recycling or treatment with energy recovery
    • No landfill of organic waste
Wastewater treatment

Average cost per tonne of methane reduced: $3,240

  • Wastewater treatment - residential
    • Upgrade to secondary/tertiary anaerobic treatment with biogas recovery and utilization
    • Wastewater treatment plants instead of latrines and disposal
  • Wastewater treatment - industrial
    • Upgrade to two-stage treatment, i.e., anaerobic treatment with biogas recovery followed by aerobic treatment
Agricultural sector

Average cost per tonne of methane reduced: $830

  • Improve animal health and husbandry
    • Reduce enteric fermentation in cattle, sheep and other ruminants through feed changes and supplements
    • Selective breeding to improve productivity and animal health/fertility
    • Livestock manure management
    • Treatment in biogas digesters
    • Decreased manure storage time
    • Improve manure storage covering
    • Improve housing systems and bedding
    • Manure acidification
  • Rice paddies
    • Improved water management or alternate flooding/drainage wetland rice
    • Direct wet seeding
    • Phosphogypsum and sulphate addition to inhibit methanogenesis
    • Composting rice straw
    • Use of alternative hybrids species
  • Agricultural crop residues
    • Prevent burning of agricultural crop residues

Additional beneficial measures (~15% reduction potential)

Fossil fuel sector

Oil, gas, and coal

  • Renewables for power generation
    • Use incentives to foster expanded use of wind, solar, and hydro power for electricity generation
    • Improved energy efficiency and energy demand management - residential
      • Use incentives to improve the energy efficiency of household appliances, buildings, lighting, heating and cooling, encourage rooftop solar installations
    • Improved energy efficiency and energy demand management - industrial
      • Introduce ambitious energy efficiency standards for industry
      • Improve consumer awareness of cleaner energy options
Waste sector

Solid waste

  • Reduced consumer waste and improved waste separation and recycling, improved sustainable consumption
Agricultural sector

Consumption and waste

  • Reduced food waste and loss
    • Strengthen and expand food cold chains
    • Consumer education campaigns
    • Facilitate donation of unsold or excess food
  • Adoption of healthier diets
    • Decrease intake where consumption of ruminant products is above recommended guidelines


The Climate and Clean Air Coalition supports governments and actors in the main methane emitting sectors to reduce emissions. Find out about our resources for action below.

Oil and gas activities

Waste activities

Agriculture activities