Climate Change

Without mitigation, global methane emissions would rise by 30% until 2050: Study

A regional and sector-specific approach is important for methane mitigation strategies, it says

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 28 February 2020
The study called for behavioural change regarding dairy and meat products to reduce methane emissions. Photo:

Global emissions of methane, a major Greenhouse Gas (GHG) would increase by 30 per cent until 2050 if measures to control them are not taken, a new study has said.

While it would technically be possible to remove about 38 per cent of these emissions by implementing available mitigation technology, nevertheless, a significant amount of methane would still be released between 2020 and 2050, the study added.

This would make it impossible for the world to stay below 1.5 degrees celsius warming, the study, conducted by international scientific institute, The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said.

The researchers who conducted the study, also found that emissions had registered a major increase after 2010.

They explained this as being caused due to increased methane emissions from shale gas production in North America, increased coal mining in Indonesia and Australia, increased generation of waste and wastewater from growing populations as well as economic development in Asia and Africa.

In addition, there has been a small but steady increase in emissions from beef and dairy production in Latin America and Africa, according to the researchers.

Mitigation efforts

Between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of future global emissions could still be removed at a cost below 50 €/t CO2eq, the study said, by using what it termed ‘technical abatement potentials’.

The researchers called for a phase-down of fossil fuels to achieve this.

Since technical abatement potentials were particularly limited in agriculture, the researchers called for non-technical measures such as behavioural changes to reduce dairy and meat consumption.

Other such measures included institutional and socio-economic reforms to address smallholder livestock herding as a means of risk management in Africa and Southeast Asia.

“There is no one-size fits all solution for the whole world,” study lead author Lena Höglund-Isaksson was quoted as saying in a press statement.

For instance, she said, in West Asia and Africa, oil production was a major contributor to methane emissions with relatively extensive potentials for emission reductions at low cost.

In Europe and Latin America, dairy and beef production were the main sources with relatively limited technical mitigation potentials, while in North America, emissions from shale gas extraction could significantly contain emissions at a low cost.

“Our study illustrates just how important it is to have a regional-and sector-specific approach to mitigation strategies,” Höglund-Isaksson said.    

The study, titled Technical potentials and costs for reducing global anthropogenic methane emissions in the 2050 timeframe –results from the GAINS model, was published on February 27, 2020, in the journal Environmental Research Communications.

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