Today, global warming and climate change pose one of the biggest dangers to all life on Earth. Sadly, these are caused by our ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), particularly carbon dioxide and methane.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres already warned us that if we don’t scale up our climate efforts as early as now, we will enter a new era of climate catastrophe, where the effects of climate change are more potent and irreversible.
However, our current actions are not making desirable results, as the IPCC Report 2022 finds that we’re set to pass the 1.5ºC threshold within the next two decades. With global temperatures rising by 1.1ºC so far, according to the World Research Institute, we already see more powerful disasters. What if we reach a global temperature of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels? Things could get worse.
In light of this, we must maximize our efforts to halve GHG emissions every decade until 2050. It’s the only way we can avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change due to Natural Gas.
And while the discussion of emission reductions merely focuses on carbon dioxide (CO2), taking notice of methane levels is our best hope to achieve our climate goals. This blog will further discuss how methane drives climate change, ways to reduce them, and the future of natural gas. Let’s get started!
Methane Emissions and Climate Change
Methane (CH4) is the second-largest contributor to global warming. It is responsible for the 30% of temperature increase from pre-industrial levels. And unlike carbon dioxide (CO2), methane’s ability to trap heat is much stronger, making it more potent than the most abundant GHG in the atmosphere. It also plays a substantial role in the development of ground-level ozone, which is responsible for an annual loss of 79–121 million tons of crop production and a million premature deaths.
According to UNECE, methane has the potential for a 100-year global warming 28–34 times greater than CO2, which ratio increases to 84-46 times when calculated over a 20-year period. Having said that, we must not overlook methane emissions as they can lead to more extreme disasters.
Use various technologies, like a methane watch, to monitor your company’s emissions and adopt more sustainable practices. After all, doing climate management can give your company a competitive advantage as many people now choose to support green brands. To cut down methane emissions on a global scale, let’s see the top contributors to methane emissions.
Reducing Methane Emissions
Methane emissions may come from either natural or human-caused sources. But beyond half the overall emissions come from human activities in agriculture, oil and natural gas systems, coal mines, solid waste, and wastewater. Therefore, these five key sources are what we’ll focus on to cut down a huge amount of methane emissions(Natural Gas).
Methane emissions from agriculture are primarily produced by ruminal livestock such as cows, sheep, and goats due to their digestion process. Elsewhere in agriculture, the burning of biomass, manure management, and other traditional farming practices are the other things that produce methane.
To cut down methane emissions in agriculture, farmers can feed animals with more energy-dense diets to improve their digestive systems. In addition, they can also use anaerobic digesters for manure management. Other strategies to reduce methane may involve drip irrigation and no-till farming.
Oil and Natural Gas Systems
The oil and gas industry releases “fugitive methane” through leaks, venting, and incomplete combustion during flaring. And since methane is the main component of natural gas, these emissions represent an untapped source of Natural Gas, subject to the establishment of the requisite infrastructure. But there are ways to stop losses in upstream production. It involves the replacement or electrification of equipment and investment in instrument air systems, leak detection equipment, and vapor recovery units.
The majority of coal-mine-methane (CMM) emissions come from both active abandoned mines. And while it can be difficult to collect gases there before, there are many technologies today that can capture CMM and even use it to generate power. There’s a degasification pump station and ventilation air methane (VAM) abatement.
Methane from waste usually comes from organic waste under anaerobic conditions when it starts to decompose. But through the use of landfill gas wells (LFG), you can extract the gas from landfills/dumpsters and combust it in a flare or use it for electricity generation.
Methane emissions in wastewater are the same as in landfills, the only difference is that it happens in wastewater streams. And the best way to reduce methane here is to build centralized aerobic treatment facilities and install technologies like anaerobic sludge digestion and biogas capture systems.
The Future of Natural Gas
Today, natural gas has been used as an alternative to coal and oil as it emits less conventional air pollutants. The only concern about this is its high methane content, which is about 85%-95%. However, LNG companies have demonstrated to control the leaks by utilizing leak detection technologies.
But as we invest more in technologies to modernize LNG facilities and other methane-producing sectors, we can look forward to achieving our climate goals and a greener future.