Methane must fall to slow global heating – but only 13% of emissions are actually regulated

(The Conversation, 19 May 2023) Methane – a potent greenhouse gas and the second biggest driver of global warming after carbon dioxide (CO₂) – had its moment in the spotlight in 2021. Over 100 countries signed on to the Global Pledge to cut emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels by 2030.

This is a useful goal, but our new research shows that something is still missing: stringent policies to eliminate methane emissions.

Our study is the first global review of methane policies which have been adopted across the world since the 1970s. It reveals that only around 13% of man-made methane emissions from the biggest sources (agriculture, energy and waste) is regulated by policies capable of controlling and preventing them.

This falls to 10% if we take a conservative view of the total emissions and regions covered by specific policies and whether they have been fully or partially implemented.

These policies may mandate companies to find and fix methane leaks, install equipment which can capture emissions, charge them for every unit of methane released or reward them for making use of methane, like extracting biogas from rotting food and other organic waste. Our study showed that the majority (70%) of policies have been adopted in the US and Europe.

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The Conversation, 19 May 2023: Methane must fall to slow global heating – but only 13% of emissions are actually regulated