Methane Removal: On the Critical Path to Avoiding 0.6 degrees of Warming by 2050

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – November 6, 2022.  Methane removal, an emerging greenhouse gas removal (GGR) approach that destroys methane, will be discussed at COP27 side events, including a COP27 press conference on November 6, 2022, Press Conference Room – Luxor, Area B, Press Conference 2, 16:30-17:00.  Scientists, policymakers, and climate groups are urging governments to put methane removal on the climate policy agenda. Current progress and potential impacts of methane removal will be the subject of a press conference at COP27 with leading experts and advocates entitled “Methane Removal:  On the Critical Path to Avoiding 0.6 degrees of Warming by 2050.” Speakers include Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action, Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development and Stephan Singer, Senior Advisor, Science and Energy, Climate Action Network-International.

Methane is over 80 times more potent a warming agent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Unlike carbon dioxide removal, methane removal requires no sequestration.  Instead, it accelerates the natural process of methane oxidation, breaking it down to water vapor and carbon dioxide — a big net gain for the climate that reduces radiative forcing and avoids 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.  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,” said Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action, who will present on methane removal at COP27. “It was a novel concept unknown to most just two years ago, but methane removal is climbing the climate agenda fast. Scientists, policymakers, and climate groups are becoming more familiar with it and its game-changing potential for the climate, and they’re increasingly supporting it.”

“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. 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,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

“Many members of Climate Action Network are very concerned about the rapid rise in atmospheric methane. 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,” said Dr. Stephan Singer, Climate Action Network.

Last year, leading climate scientists and policymakers endorsed sign-on letters calling on countries to develop methane removal technologies and infrastructure, and supporting an international Declaration on Removal of Atmospheric Methane, which was circulated at COP26 in Glasgow.

This year, citizen sector organizations and climate movement groups 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, but so far, it has been endorsed by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Hip Hop Caucus, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Wilderness Society, Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, Climate Action Network Australia, Climate Action Network Zimbabwe, Foundation for Climate Restoration, and the Georgia and Virginia chapters of Interfaith Power & Light, among many others.

Since methane is a precursor of ground-level ozone, which damages respiratory health and lowers crop yields, methane removal conducted 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. 

Journalists are invited to attend and cover Nov. 6, 2022, 16:30-17:00 Egypt time.  

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