New Declaration Offers a Policy Framework for Pursuing Atmospheric Methane Removal and Aggressive Emissions Cuts

Contact:  Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, 914-589-5988

As Governments take steps to reduce methane, a new Declaration offers a policy Framework for pursuing atmospheric methane removal together with aggressive emissions cuts, and leading climate scientists and advocates call on governments to adopt it

[Port Townsend, Washington – September 17, 2021]  Amid new efforts by governments to reduce methane emissions, a new Declaration on Reducing Atmospheric Methane was released today by the NGO Methane Action. It lays out a policy framework governments and international bodies can adopt for coupling deep cuts in methane emissions with removing or neutralizing methane in the atmosphere, in order to bring atmospheric concentrations of methane down to preindustrial levels rapidly and substantially reduce global warming.  Methane is a powerful warming agent, at least 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over 20 years.  

Concurrently with the release of the Declaration, leading scientists and civil society leaders have signed onto a letter of support asking governments to adopt it.  It points out that current methane levels are at 800,000-year highs and rising rapidly, and that according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, methane has caused a third of global warming since the late 19th century, contributing at least half as much warming as carbon dioxide. The letter argues that while it’s critical to cut methane emissions from fossil fuel operations and other sectors as deeply as possible, some anthropogenic emissions will continue, as will methane emissions from natural sources, which are 40% of overall U.S. methane emissions.  In fact, emissions from wetlands may increase as global temperatures rise. In light of this, the letter says it’s time for governments to act, and take concrete steps to both cut methane emissions aggressively and develop and implement technologies for removing methane from the atmosphere.  

“The Declaration on Reducing Atmospheric Methane lays out such steps that can be taken now, and a framework for researching a range of potential methane solutions and implementing those that prove safe and effective,” the letter states. “We urge national governments and other jurisdictions to adopt it.”

Signatories to the letter so far include Dinah Bear, who served as General Counsel to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush; Gus Speth, founder of the World Resources Institute, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and CEQ chair under President Carter; and such leading climate scientists as  Lena Höglund-Isaksson, a lead author of the recent UNEP Global Methane Assessment;  Rob Jackson, whose research into methane removal technologies is cited in the current IPCC report; Michael Mann, a lead author of the current IPCC report and previous reports; and William Moomaw, a lead author of the previous five IPCC reports, among many others.  

There are growing signs governments are heeding the call to move swiftly to cut methane emissions and pursue atmospheric methane removal.  Today at the Major Economies Forum, President Biden called the latest IPCC report a “code red for humanity,” and announced a pledge that the U.S. and the European Union would cut anthropogenic methane emissions 30% by 2030. “This will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but it will also produce a very valuable side benefit like improving public health and agricultural output,” Biden said. “We’re mobilizing support to help developing countries that join and pledge to do something significant.”

In budget reconciliation mark-ups this week, the House Energy and Commerce committee approved a new methane fee that would charge oil and gas companies $1500 per metric ton of methane emissions from their operations that exceed certain thresholds. The bill language states that revenues from the fees would be used to “mitigate legacy air pollution from petroleum and natural gas systems,” among other remediation steps. Oil and gas operations are a major source of methane emissions.  “Legacy air pollution” refers to previously emitted pollutants which persist in the atmosphere. 

“A ‘climate code red’ warning for humanity requires that we act to lower atmospheric methane levels now,” said Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action, which spearheaded the Declaration and the sign-on letter and has been advocating pursuing atmospheric methane removal along with methane emissions reduction for the past year.  “We’re very encouraged by the traction the methane issue is getting at the highest levels, and we’re grateful to the many scientists, advocates and policy leaders who are working hard to advance solutions. Now we need to rapidly build public awareness and financial support. Funding methane removal research and development plus making deep cuts in methane emissions has the potential to restore atmospheric methane concentrations to pre-industrial levels within a decade, which could dramatically slow global warming. The momentum we’re seeing now makes that potential all the more realizable, and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen.”


NOTE TO EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: The sign-on letter and Declaration on Reducing Atmospheric Methane are posted on www.methaneaction.org, along with detailed information on methane’s climate impacts and methane removal technologies. The sign-on letter remains open for signature, and can be signed online here. Daphne Wysham and other expert sources are available for comment and interviews on request. For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Stephen Kent, skent@kentcom.com, 914-589-5988.

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