Global Methane Pledge: UN COP26

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    • Over 90 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge that was launched at the ongoing UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

    What is Global Methane Pledge?

    • The pledge was first announced in September by the US and EU. It is not a structured agreement.
    • Aim: Reducing the global methane emissions across the globe.
      • To cut down methane emissions by up to 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the year 2030.
    • How will the project help?
      • If implemented globally, this would minimise global warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by the 2040s, compared to projected temperature rises.
      • The planet is presently around 1.2 degrees Celsius hotter than it was before the Industrial Revolution.
    • As of now, India, the third-largest source of methane emissions, is not a signatory.
    • Independent International Methane Emissions Observatory launched for Methane monitoring at COP26.

    What is Methane?

    • About:
      • It is the second-most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, after carbon dioxide.
      • It is the simplest hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
      • It is a colourless, odourless, and highly flammable gas. 
    • Sources:
      • These include human/anthropogenic sources and natural. Approximately 40% of methane emitted is from natural sources and about 60% comes from human-influenced sources.
      • Human sources/anthropogenic sources of methane include landfills, oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes.
        • Human sources of methane are responsible for 60 per cent of global methane emissions.
        • The oil and gas sectors are among the largest contributors to human sources.
      • Natural sources include decay of plant material in wetlands, the seepage of gas from underground deposits or the digestion of food by cattle.

    Impacts

    • Potent greenhouse gas: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime (12 years as compared to centuries for CO2), it has a more potent greenhouse potential because it absorbs more energy while it is in the atmosphere.
      • Methane is a powerful pollutant and has a global warming potential that is 80 times greater than carbon dioxide.
    • Further increase CO2: As methane is emitted into the air, it reacts in several hazardous ways. For one, methane primarily leaves the atmosphere through oxidization, forming water vapour and carbon dioxide. So, not only does methane contribute to global warming directly but also, indirectly through the release of carbon dioxide.
    • Other impacts: Methane also contributes to the forming of the ozone, decreasing air quality and leading to various health issues in animals, premature human deaths, and reduced crop yields.

    Reasons for Rising of Methane

    • Doesn’t come under any protocol like Paris protocol so no concrete efforts taken
    • Increase in anthropogenic activities.
    • Lockdown reduced the CO2 level but the emission of methane is significant from the agricultural field and household consumption etc.
      • Atmospheric methane increased during lockdowns imposed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
    • The concentration of methane has increased by at least 150% since the industrial revolution.

    Government initiative to reduce methane emissions

    • National Action Plan on Climate Change: Launched in 2008 NAPCC aims at creating awareness on the threat posed by climate change.
    • India Greenhouse Gas Program: Led by WRI India, Confederation of India Industry (CII) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an industry-led voluntary framework to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Seaweed-Based Animal Feed: The Central Salt & Marine Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI) developed a seaweed-based animal feed additive formulation that aims to reduce methane emissions from cattle
    • Anti-methanogenic feed supplement ‘Harit Dhara’ (HD): Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), can cut down cattle methane emissions by 17-20%. 
    • Bharat Stage-VI Norms: Recently, India has shifted from BS-IV to BS-VI emission norms.

    Way Ahead & Conclusion

    • Reducing methane would help in preventing 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat, and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually
    • It is important to monitor and calculate methane emissions.
    • A structured agreement is needed like the Paris protocol. 

    Source: IE