At the COP27 Climate Summit Expert Sources Offer Intel and Interviews on Addressing the Methane Emergency

Source:  Methane Action


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Contact:  Stephen Kent, +1 914 589 5988

At the COP27 Climate Summit Expert Sources Offer Intel And Interviews on Addressing the Methane Emergency

[Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – November 9, 2022] Leading experts on methane issues who are attending the COP27 climate summit can offer intelligence, insights, and on-the-ground interviews on how the meeting is addressing the methane emergency.  

Among those available from COP27 are Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action, Durwood Zaelke, President, and Zerin Osho, India Climate Law and Policy Specialist, IGSDInstitute for Governance & Sustainable Development, Stephan Singer, Senior Advisor, Science and Energy, Climate Action Network-International, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip-Hop Caucus.

Methane is 86 times more potent a warming agent than CO2 and has already caused a third of modern global warming.  Methane levels are at record-highs and rising rapidly. Lowering them could have a powerful effect on the climate in the near term. Yet only about 10% of countries with national determined contributions to lowering global GHG emissions include any targets for cutting methane emissions.

Recent U.S. policy addresses methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry, including a significant new fee imposed on methane leaks, enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.  Speaking at COP27 this week, Marcelo Mena, CEO of the Methane Hub and former Environment Minister of Chile, said the U.S. fee sends an important global signal, and could incentivize trading partners to follow suit, for example through a carbon border adjustment mechanism for methane.

But meanwhile, the agriculture and waste sectors are also major sources of methane emissions that demand attention, and few resources have been devoted to remediating them.   This week at COP27, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry will unveil a U.S. new program of carbon credits to accelerate emissions cuts and renewables deployment.   It’s unclear how these credits might be used to abate methane emissions.  

This week at COP27 World Bank Group President David Malpass hosted a meeting on fast-tracking and financing methane mitigation, including “methane reduction” projects that can “virtually eliminate” methane emissions from agricultural fields, according to Malpass.  It was joined by John Podesta, U.S. Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, and senior development bank officials.

“Methane emissions from the agriculture and waste sectors, and from natural sources like wetlands, will be hard to stop,” said Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action at COP27 this week.  “We need to cut methane emissions however and wherever we can, but where we can’t, we’ll also need to develop methane removal capability.”

Once proven and deployed at scale, methane removal would accelerate the natural process of methane oxidation, breaking it down to water vapor and carbon dioxide — a big net gain for the climate that would substantially reduce radiative forcing and avoid significant additional warming.  

“In combination with deep methane emissions cuts, methane removal deployed at scale has the potential to restore currently record-high and rapidly rising atmospheric methane concentrations to their pre-industrial levels by 2050,” Wysham said. “This would avoid 0.6 degrees Celsius of warming by mid-century, helping put the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.”

Last year, leading climate scientists endorsed a sign-on letter calling for aggressive reductions in methane emissions, funding research and development of methane removal technologies, and framing and implementing a global agreement to return atmospheric methane concentrations to preindustrial levels. This week, climate pioneer James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, signed the letter. 

Wysham pointed out that since methane is a precursor of ground-level ozone, which damages respiratory health and lowers crop yields, methane removal deployed in places severely impacted by climate change would also yield co-benefits for public health and food security, and in that sense has the potential to help offset some climate loss and damage. 

“Methane is the blow torch that is warming the world faster than anything else today and it is the source that we need to turn off the fastest,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) at COP27 this week. “We know how to do it for the anthropogenic side and we are learning how to do it for natural sources of methane emissions. It is the best opportunity for slowing down the self-reinforcing feedbacks and avoiding the tipping points that are lurking past 1.5 degrees Celsius in warming,” 

“Methane removal is the future, but what we need in India and other countries today is fast action to mitigate methane emissions, which could be implemented through subnational and local governments. Climate restoration requires new technologies that can cost-effectively remove methane from the atmosphere. Growing methane emissions in the global South, including India, can be effectively tackled if technology is transferred and financial mechanisms are in place,”  said Zerin Osho, India Climate Law and Policy Specialist, IGSD. 

“Many members of Climate Action Network are very concerned about the rapid rise in atmospheric methane,” said Dr. Stephan Singer of the Climate Action Network, speaking at COP27. “Methane emissions are occurring in many sectors like industrial agriculture and fossil fuels and we would like to significantly change these sectors to zero emissions, eventually.” 

Many of Climate Action Network’s over 1500 members and other citizen sector organizations are signing onto a new statement asking governments and international bodies to research and develop promising methane removal technologies and to frame governance for testing and deploying them safely and justly. Signatories “urge all governments and jurisdictions to take such actions rapidly and ask that relevant frameworks including the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement address them.”

The statement remains open for signature. So far, it has been endorsed by Oxfam International, Union of Concerned Scientists (US), Friends Committee on National Legislation (US), Hip Hop Caucus (US), Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, The Wilderness Society (US), Stand.Earth (US, Canada), Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative (US), The Climate Center (US), Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (US), Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (US), Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pennsylvania (US), The People’s Justice Council (US) Center for Sustainable Economy (US), Stable Planet Alliance (US), Elders Climate Action (US), Foundation for Climate Restoration (US) The Imani Group (US), Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (US) EcoEquity (US), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (US), Government Accountability Project (US), Hago Energetics Benefit Corporation (US), Climate Action Network New Zealand, Climate Action Network Zimbabwe, Climate Action Network Australia, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth -Nigeria,  BEST Futures (Australia), Northern Beaches Climate Action Network (Australia),  Iceland Nature Conservation Association (Iceland), Sociedad Amigos del Viento (Uruguay), Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina), Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (Canada), AbibiNsroma Foundation (Ghana), Talanoa (Brazil), Climate Reality Leaders (Finland), and Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental A.C (Mexico).

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