Frequently Asked Questions

How big is methane’s impact on the climate?

How big is methane’s impact on the climate?

Overall, methane in the atmosphere contributed about one-third of global warming over the past decade, with carbon dioxide contributing most of the rest. Reducing current methane levels in the atmosphere could lower that contribution, generating tangible climate benefits over the next decade or two. Some scientists also worry about the ... Read More
Cows with a biogas plant behind them.

Where does methane come from, and where does it go?

Atmospheric methane comes from both manmade and natural sources. The main sources of methane emissions from human activity are agriculture (especially cattle and rice paddies) and fossil fuels (extraction, transport, and use). Fossil methane is emitted from coal mines, fracking, gas leaks and venting of oil wells. Together, fossil fuels ... Read More
Darvaza gas crater--a large pit of flaming methane.

What’s more important, methane emissions from anthropogenic sources or natural ones?

Anthropogenic emissions are more important globally, but all sources matter. As public concern about methane grows, most of the focus is on cutting methane emissions from anthropogenic sources, such as the fossil fuel industry. That’s crucial. But since emissions from natural sources such as wetlands and permafrost comprise 40% of ... Read More
A boy standing in water to his knees that. The water is everywhere. There is a tree and and a house partially submerged in the the distance.

Can cutting methane emissions be effective in helping slow global warming?

Yes.  In fact, reducing methane emissions from large sources like the fossil fuel industry, agriculture, and others is mission-critical for slowing warming. But to get atmospheric methane levels to fall by cutting emissions alone, we would have to fast-track it far beyond what has been done to date. We need ... Read More
A very colorful coral reef scene with many species of tropical fish.

Beyond mitigating emissions, what else can be done to reduce atmospheric methane levels?

In addition to cutting anthropogenic methane emissions, we must reduce atmospheric methane levels, which are at record highs and rising quickly (relatively more quickly than carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases). The strongest approach to reducing methane levels is to couple cutting current and future emissions with removing methane that ... Read More
A rice paddie

How does EAMO work, and what does it do?

Enhanced atmospheric methane oxidation (EAMO) builds on the atmosphere’s natural cleansing process.Nature removes methane continuously in the troposphere by oxidizing it, converting it to mostly water and carbon dioxide.  However, today natural oxidation cannot keep up with accelerating methane emissions from both anthropogenic and natural sources.  But it’s possible to ... Read More
Inside the conference hall at COP 21 in Paris.

Do scientists support pursuing methane removal technologies?

While all scientists recognize the urgent need to cut methane emissions, some fear pursuing active removal of atmospheric methane could distract from the job of cutting and drawing down carbon dioxide emissions.  But others are recognizing methane removal deserves high priority. So far, dozens of prominent scientists from North America, ... Read More
Solar panels with wind turbines behind them.

Would methane levels moderate without methane removal technologies?

To some degree, they would, though not enough to avoid further contributing to global warming.  It’s a somewhat complex equation:  As clean energy replaces fossil fuels, methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector, as well as carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions, will fall somewhat.  At the same time, lowering ... Read More
What about the “moral hazard” of removing methane from the atmosphere?  Wouldn’t it let polluters off the hook?

What about the “moral hazard” of removing methane from the atmosphere? Wouldn’t it let polluters off the hook?

No. In fact, it’s critical that methane removal be coupled with strong requirements to cut methane pollution and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To make the methane math work and avoid methane-induced warming, we need both aggressive emissions mitigation and active removal measures. They are linked, and mutually reinforcing. Some ... Read More
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