The world needs to dramatically ramp up spending tenfold to $110 billion a year to curb methane releases and avoid the worst of climate change, a new study has found.
The potent greenhouse gas is responsible for nearly half of net global warming to date, yet just 2% of global climate finance is directed towards curbing releases of the gas, according to a report from the Climate Policy Initiative. Money spent cutting methane leaks has “one of the highest ratios of global warming benefit per dollar of capital invested.’’
The biggest opportunity to mitigate emissions are from oil, gas and coal operations, and those cuts are crucial to maintaining a pathway to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius, the analysis found. But just $100 million of the $11 billion currently directed toward abating methane goes to mitigating leaks and releases from the sector, according to investment figures tracked by CPI. Almost two-thirds goes towards the waste sector.
“Nearly all of the methane mitigation potential in the oil and gas sector can be implemented at no net cost’’ because of the high cost of natural gas, the report found. Private corporations in the industry are best positioned to sustain investments to curb methane leaks because equipment upgrades can be folded into regular maintenance. The public sector must also further incentivize operators to reduce leaks.
Read more: The Cheap and Easy Climate Fix That Can Cool the Planet Fast
Using all available technologies to cut methane emissions and flaring from the oil and gas sector alone can avoid nearly 0.1 degrees Celsius of warming by mid-century, CPI said, citing the International Energy Agency. This is “the equivalent of immediately eliminating the greenhouse gas footprint of all cars, trucks, buses, and two- and three-wheelers in the world.’’
Methane, which is the primary component of natural gas, has 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Agriculture and livestock are the largest contributors to methane generated from human activity, followed by fossil fuels and waste.