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Warming Methane Set To Fuel Circular Economy

The world is focusing sharply on methane, not only because of its high global warming impact but also because of its potential use in circular economy

Carbon dioxide has long been the focus of efforts to combat climate change, but attention is now turning to methane due to its high potency as a greenhouse gas. According to Hisham Mundol, Chief Advisor for India to the Environmental Defence Fund, methane emissions contribute significantly to global warming, accounting for at least a quarter of current warming. Unlike carbon dioxide, methane’s shorter atmospheric lifespan means that reducing its emissions can have a more immediate impact on curbing climate change.

Recent developments at COP28 underscore the growing recognition of methane’s role in climate change mitigation. Mundol highlights a positive outcome from the conference, with fifty major oil and gas companies, including the Oil & Natural Gas Commission, committing to virtually eliminate their methane emissions. This move is significant as reducing methane emissions from oil and gas is considered one of the easiest, cheapest, and fastest routes to decarbonisation.

The economic benefits of methane reduction are also becoming increasingly apparent. A report from the Climate & Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and the UN Environment Programme, titled Global Methane Assessment, highlights the cost-effectiveness of reducing human-induced methane emissions. The report estimates global monetized benefits for all impacts at roughly USD 4,300 per tonne of reduced methane, with approximately 85 percent of targeted measures showing benefits surpassing net costs.

Despite progress, methane abatement finance still falls short of global requirements. According to the Climate Policy Initiative, annual financial support for methane abatement averaged USD 13.7 billion in 2021/22, an increase from previous years but still below the projected global requirement of USD 48 billion per year by 2030. This shortfall underscores the urgent need for increased funding to accelerate methane reduction efforts.

In India, adopting a circular economy model within the methane value chain is seen as imperative for sustainable development. Anup Garg, founder and director of World of Circular Economy, emphasises the potential of circular economy principles to optimise resources and encourage sustainable practices in methane emission reduction strategies. Shalini Goyal Bhalla, Managing Director of the International Council for Circular Economy, highlights the role of circular economy principles in reducing methane leaks from fossil fuel extraction and processing.

Overall, methane reduction efforts not only contribute to climate action but also align with the realization of Sustainable Development Goals such as Climate Action (SDG 13) and Good Health and Well-Being (SDG 3). As the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change, addressing methane emissions remains a crucial priority for global sustainability.

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