Frequently Asked Questions

How big is methane’s impact on the climate?

How big is methane’s impact on the climate?

Methane accounts for about 30 percent of global warming above pre-industrial levels. That number may well rise, because methane levels are rising fast – faster than carbon dioxide, and faster than at any time since record keeping began in the 1980s. Since the pre-industrial era, atmospheric methane has increased almost ... Read More
Darvaza gas crater--a large pit of flaming methane.

What’s more important, manmade methane sources or natural ones?

Global warming exacerbates methane emissions from all sources, natural and manmade (or anthropogenic). Today, anthropogenic methane emissions are 60% of overall emissions, so they’re greater than natural methane emissions, but all sources matter.  As public concern about methane grows, most of the focus is on cutting methane emissions from anthropogenic ... 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.

Will cutting methane emissions help slow global warming?

Definitely. We need to do everything possible to cut manmade methane emissions. 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. In 2021, the US and EU launched the Global Methane Pledge, which ... Read More
A very colorful coral reef scene with many species of tropical fish.

Besides cutting methane emissions, how else can we reduce atmospheric methane levels?

The strongest approach to reducing methane levels is to do two things: cut methane emissions wherever we can, and where we can’t, develop the capability to remove excess methane near emissions sources and in the ambient atmosphere. Methane Action works to evaluate methane removal technologies according to safety, effectiveness, equity, ... Read More
A rice paddie

How does methane removal work, and how is it different from carbon dioxide removal?

The term “methane removal” is shorthand for accelerating the natural transformation of methane in the atmosphere.  All methane in the atmosphere eventually breaks down to water vapor and CO2 through natural oxidation. Methanotrophic bacteria also breaks down methane in the biosphere. Since current methane emissions are so high, methane is getting added to the atmosphere ... 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 two largest 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 ... Read More
What are the benefits of methane removal?

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, ... 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. Dozens of prominent scientists from North America, Europe, and ... Read More
Solar panels with wind turbines behind them.

Would methane levels fall without methane removal technologies?

If methane emissions are cut aggressively enough, that would lower methane concentrations by itself, but not enough to prevent methane from further contributing to global warming. Methane has a relatively short half-life in the atmosphere. Theoretically, methane concentrations would fall if emissions suddenly ceased. But as a practical matter, methane ... Read More
Should Carbon Offsets Be Used to Finance Methane Mitigation or Removal?

Should Carbon Offsets Be Used to Finance Methane Mitigation or Removal?

Since the purpose of carbon offsets is not to reduce total emissions but to shift the location of abatement to more cost-effective sources, Methane Action does not support carbon offsets as part of any nationally determined contribution toward greenhouse gas emissions reductions, including methane reduction and removal. We do support ... 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?

Some climate advocates view removal of greenhouse gases (GHG) as a “moral hazard” that could embolden fossil fuel companies to keep polluting and profiting at the expense of the climate and frontline communities, while leaving the job of mitigating the pollution to others. The risk polluters may try to do ... Read More
Translate »