When talking about climate change, carbon dioxide is always the first one that comes to mind. However, this could be changed soon.
According to the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the level of methane is higher now compared to the last 800,000 years.
Methane is an odorless, invisible gas and has 80 times more impact on warming power than carbon dioxide.
One of the authors of the IPCC report, Charles Koven, highlighted the importance of reducing methane.
“The fastest way that we might mitigate some of the climate change that we’re seeing already in the short term is by reducing methane,” Koven told CNN.
Koven, who earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley, said if suddenly the world stopped the CO2 emission tomorrow, it would take years for the overall global temperature to cool down because the gas stays in the atmosphere.
However, Koven also admitted that decreasing methane is the easiest way for us towards the right path for the next decade.
The main producers of methane currently are livestock, landfills, and the oil and gas industry.
The International Energy Agency project that the oil and gas industry around the world can decrease methane by 75% using the technology that is already widely available.
Robert Jackson, professor of environmental science at Stanford University said
addressing methane emissions from the agriculture industry could be a tricky one.
“There are only certain things we can do with cattle,” Jackson said. “We can either ask people to stop eating beef or we can try and give cattle feed additives to change the microbes in the chemistry of their guts. But that’s not easy to do for billions of cattle around the world.”
Rick Duke, a White House liaison for John Kerry, President Biden’s special climate envoy, told CNN that reducing methane, including methane leaks, remains a high priority for the Biden administration.
“There’s been incredible largely behind-the-scenes effort already to prepare to move faster and more comprehensively to cut methane domestically, at the same time that we’re addressing this as a diplomatic imperative,” Duke said.