What are the benefits of methane removal?

Scientists estimate that the combination of deep methane emissions cuts plus methane removal deployed at scale has the potential to restore currently record-high atmospheric methane concentrations (about 1900 parts per billion) to their pre-industrial levels (about 700 ppm) by 2050.  Achieving 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, staving off climate change tipping points, and saving and improving countless lives and ecosystems. As shown in the following maps from the Global Methane Assessment, those co-benefits of reducing methane are all countries, especially for the most populated ones. 

That’s the main reason to pursue methane removal, but it’s important to note methane removal also has additional co-benefits for food security and human health. Since methane is a precursor of ground-level ozone, methane removal would reduce ozone formation.  Ground-level ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right, and a dangerous air pollutant that damages respiratory health and lowers crop yields.

Studies show reducing ground-level ozone by 45% (thanks to methane emissions cuts) could prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, and 73 billion hours of lost labor from extreme heat.  It would also increase crop yields by 25 million tons annually by stopping the harmful impact of ground-level ozone on plant growth.

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition have published extensive maps showing how these co-benefits would be distributed. They would accrue to all countries,  especially the more populated ones, including in the global South. Methane removal would enhance these co-benefits worldwide.

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