New CCAC-UNEP report calls for a new era for accelerated methane action

by CCAC secretariat - 4 November, 2022
The Global Methane Assessment 2030 Baseline Report examines the business-as-usual projections of methane emissions over the coming decade, their relationship to the Global Methane Pledge and why we need to act now to accelerate implementation.

Methane is second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in driving climate change. Methane is 86 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Methane has a relatively short lifespan of 12 years when compared to CO2, much of which stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

Rapidly reducing methane emissions in fossil fuels, agriculture and waste is the single most effective strategy to reduce near-term global warming. Yet, the amount of methane in the atmosphere is increasing at record rates and is projected to increase by up to 13 per cent by 2030. We must reverse this trend now.

Such are the conclusions of the Global Methane Assessment 2030 Baseline report. Why act now: a new era for accelerated change, released by the UN Environment Programme convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

"We need to act faster and achieve at least 30 per cent reductions in methane emissions in this same timeframe to meet the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) target and continue to keep 1.5°C within reach. There is no climate solution that can achieve faster results than targeted methane reduction,” said Rick Duke, US Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and CCAC co-chair.



Keep the planet cooler with methane mitigation

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment report shows that human-driven methane emissions are responsible for nearly 45 per cent of current net warming. The IPCC has continuously emphasized the critical urgency of reducing anthropogenic emissions – from methane and from other climate pollutants – if the global climate is to stay below 1.5° and 2°C targets.

To get on a 1.5-degree pathway, the world must reduce baseline methane emissions by 35 to 40 per cent in 2030. 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. According to the Baseline report, adding targeted methane mitigation to CO2-focused decarbonization strategies can deliver net-temperature benefits a decade sooner than decarbonization alone.

Yet, 2021 saw the largest annual increase in methane emissions since global monitoring began four decades ago. Current methane concentrations are now more than 260 per cent above pre-industrial levels. Today, methane emissions from human activity total between 350-390 million tonnes annually and atmospheric concentrations are now more the 260 per cent above pre-industrial levels. Emissions from the agriculture and fossil fuel energy sectors are comparable, at around 120-140 million tonnes per year, roughly twice the emissions of the waste sector, and we must act in all three sectors at once to meet the speed and scale of reductions needed.


The Global Methane Pledge: from moment to momentum

At COP26, with the launch of the Global Methane Pledge, Methane got above the radar. To take us from the Methane Moment to the Methane Momentum, we must adopt and implement methane reduction policies, accelerate the roll-out of technologies and solutions and make available dedicated finance for methane action, for all three key sectors.

”We cannot allow the picture of the world that this report is showing us, become a reality. We need to take all possible measures to cut methane, in all three sectors, as fast as we can. We are entering a new era of accelerated implementation of methane mitigation. The CCAC is supporting governments with Methane Roadmap Development and Sector Policies,' Martina Otto, Head of Secretariat, Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

“The Report shows that without further action, methane emissions are projected to increase roughly 10% this decade. As bad as that is, the record growth over the past 2 years is already far outpacing these projections,” Drew Shindell, Ph.D., CCAC special advisor on methane action, chair of the CCAC Scientific Advisory Panel and professor at Duke University (USA). “These findings highlight the need to rapidly accelerate the implementation of methane reductions alongside rapid and deep cuts in CO2 emissions in order to meet goals such as the Global Methane Pledge’s 30% decrease or the Paris Agreement.”

Fortunately, we can reverse this trend and achieve our climate target using solutions available today. The 2021 GMA identified targeted methane measures which 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.


Act right now

Since deep decarbonization measures will generate greater temperature reductions after 2050, methane reduction policies and actions such as those to deliver the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) must be implemented alongside net-zero CO2 efforts, in parallel and immediately.

“Business as usual would lead to an increase in methane emissions the world cannot afford. Methane abatement is possible, economical, and will lead to measurable results within a few years. It is now time to focus on implementing our common Global Methane Pledge,” commented European Union Climate Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen. “The Baseline report underscores black and white the reasons why the EU invested much effort over the last three years to bring methane abatement to greater international prominence.”

The EU said it will continue to work with all partners building on “the great work of the CCAC and the International Methane Emissions Observatory.”

Finance for methane emissions abatement only accounts for less than 2% of global climate finance, according to a report by the Climate Policy Initiative. Methane abatement solutions are severely underfunded considering their climate change mitigation potential, CPI had said.

This contrasts with the global monetized benefits for all market and non-market impacts are approximately US$ 4 300 per tonne of methane reduced, according to calculations by the authors of the GMA 2030 Baseline report. When accounting for these benefits nearly 85 per cent of the targeted measures have benefits that outweigh the net costs. For instance, the benefits of the annually avoided premature deaths alone from achieving the GMP target is approximately US$ 380 billion per year.

“The appeal for more commitments from decision-makers, political figures, and business leaders to adopt actions that will prevent the tipping point and ensure winning the race to 2030 becomes more urgent as we assemble in Egypt for COP27,” said Peter Dery, Director, Environment Division Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana and CCAC co-chair.


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