BY ROB JACKSON AND DAPHNE WYSHAM
When world leaders convened at the climate summit, carbon dioxide (CO2) wasn’t the only climate pollutant on the agenda. They also grappled with methane. Methane accounts for 16 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it’s one of the most powerful levers for fighting climate change. We’re unlikely to be able to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius without cutting methane emissions and — as we proposed in a recent sign-on letter — also finding ways to neutralize methane already in the atmosphere.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recently wrote to President Biden asking him to elevate the methane issue at the summit and to give it its own emissions target. Methane is so important to the climate because it’s 84 times more powerful a global warming agent than CO2 in the 20-year near term. It accounts for a quarter of anthropogenic global warming we’re experiencing today, and it’s rising alarmingly fast. This month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new data showing methane emissions surged in 2020 by the largest jump since measurements began in 1983.
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