What you need to know about greenhouse gases other than CO2

November 15, 2021


Though CO2 emissions are often given the spotlight, it is important to reduce all greenhouse gases, especially the more potent methane. Learn why methane poses more of an issue than CO2 and how curbing methane emissions can accelerate the fight against climate change.

You’ve calculated your personal carbon footprint. You’ve thought about your company’s carbon emissions.  It’s important to focus on your CO2 output as it is a destructive greenhouse gas, but this isn’t the only greenhouse gas you should keep an eye on.

While water vapor and nitrous oxide play important roles in warming the climate, and super pollutants are cause for immediate action, the most important greenhouse gas to track today is methane.

Here, we’ll look at common sources of methane emissions and the changing landscape of methane emissions reduction and regulation worldwide.

Why Methane Emissions Are a Problem

Methane is roughly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas, and it’s 80 times more potent than CO2 in the near-decade it spends in the atmosphere.

The good news is that while methane emissions are strong, this gas only sits in the atmosphere for nine to ten years, which means that an effective emissions reduction plan can have a significant impact on our progress toward climate goals in the next decade. 

Methane emissions can be traced to disparate activities across many sectors. Sixty percent of methane emissions today can be attributed to human activities, including…

· Livestock production

· Deforestation

· Leaks from gas pipes and wells 

It can be difficult to measure these emissions globally, although experts within the oil and gas industry are beginning to more closely monitor their contributions to this issue. As well, academic organizations are emerging to create standards tools to measure methane intensity. By helping companies understand the severity of their methane emissions, these new methodologies contribute to a more unified way to address corporate methane challenges. 

What You Can Do to Limit Your Methane Emissions

If you participate in any methane-emitting activities, you should create a strategy to limit and offset those emissions. Note that with offsetting emissions, because those are currently only available as equivalent tons of CO2 (tCO2e), you’ll need to purchase a greater number of credits to account for the greater potency of methane.

But before you start thinking about strategies to mitigate and offset your methane emissions, you’ll need to get to know your own natural gas sources and their methane intensity. 

This should soon be much easier, as governments, companies, and their advisory boards are all increasingly focused on data collection around methane emissions. This effort includes a California-based partnership that is launching satellites to pinpoint the location of high methane emitters, which they hope will help incentivize emitters to improve production methods to reduce the concentration of their methane emissions before new policies are required.

Once you have a sense of your company’s emission levels, set a schedule for your company’s methane emission reductions and check in on that regularly. You may find that you can’t afford to make the switch to a natural gas provider with lower methane intensity right away, but with a plan for this transition, you can start down a more sustainable path on a reasonable timeline.

As you consider how to tackle methane emissions, you should also look for opportunities to capture and resell your methane emissions as biomethane to create a reduction plan with no net cost.  

Make an Impact in the Near Term with a Methane Emissions Reduction Plan

Until recently, it’s been rare to see mentions of greenhouse gases other than CO2 in the news. This issue has been gaining momentum as governments, company leaders, and individuals become aware of the opportunity for positive financial and environmental impacts associated with reducing methane emissions.

If you're interested in learning how to measure your scope 3 methane emissions from upstream suppliers, contact ACT


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