The impending havoc due to climate change is throwing evidence in the form of floods, hurricanes, rising temperatures. The end is nigh if constructive action is not taken—methane emissions, which single-handedly account for about one-third of the reasons that cause climate change. 

In this blog, we list the five major industries that contribute to methane emissions and discuss the steps that can be undertaken to counter the damage.  

Roadblock to reducing methane emissions

The world acts to cut emissions with a set budget 一 the carbon budget. The budget has to be spent judiciously in curbing emissions that cause global warming. The identified target of cutting the global temperature by 1.5o will be met if methane emissions are cut by 2% annually; else there is a risk of exhausting the carbon budget.

Methane emissions trap more heat than CO2 emissions, so it becomes imperative that methane emissions are curbed. 

Moreover, the technology to detect and measure the amount of methane emissions is not foolproof, making it difficult to quantify the taken measures. 

Another factor is the cost to curb methane emissions. For instance, the price to curb methane emissions in oil rigs is five times more than the cost to detect oil leaks!

Technologies that help reduce methane emissions going forward.

Agriculture sector

Animals like cattle, pigs, sheep, and other farm-ruminants constitute a significant cause of methane emissions. Secondly burning of stubble is another emitter. In countries like India, fodder burning makes the air so polluted that in November this year, the national capital of the country, Delhi, recorded an average AQI of 376.

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While existing technologies do provide solutions to these problems. New advancements offer even better alternatives. 

  • The Indian Agriculture Research Institute, IARI, has developed a bio-enzyme which they call PUSA. When sprayed on the stubble, this enzyme decomposes it in 20-25 days, turning it into manure, improving the soil quality in the process. 
  • Fodder additives have been developed to lessen emissions from farm-ruminants. 
  • Plant-based meat alternatives are being offered at fast-food giants such as Burger King across the country.

Oil and Gas sector

The primary source of methane emission is uncontrolled leakage from refineries. Since this is also part of natural gas, a precious source of energy. Efforts are in place to curb the emission of methane. 

Coal mining sector

Gases are emitted from existing and abandoned coal mines. This can also be utilized as a source of energy. Countries are developing and implementing technologies that will help use these gases and obtain usable energy from them. 

Solid Waste 

Methane emitted from landfills and waste dumps can produce natural gas, a biofuel. The remaining matter can be used as manure to enrich the soil.

Wastewater

Organic waste in wastewater breaks down to emit methane and other gases. The way around it is developing sanitation facilities in the developing economies around the world. 

Another immediate solution is covering such wastewater with bio solids or microalgae. 

Steps needed to be taken across the world

Steps needed to be taken across the world 

  • Improve measurement techniques and monitor methane emissions to generate data that can be quantified.
  • Introduce methane emission data labeling on all commercially available produce and meat products to sensitize the populace and reduce consumption. Reducing demand is one way to reduce production. 
  • The technologies available at the moment can be expensive. Resources spent to devise more affordable alternatives should be fostered by the policymakers. 
  • Natural methods that reduce methane emissions should be discovered and implemented.
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To sum it up 

Methane emissions aren’t recognized for the harm they cause to global warming. Sustained efforts to identify methane emissions, collect and quantify data, and develop technologies to curb the emissions.