UK still well off track on pledge to cut methane emissions, study says

Analysis indicates that government initiatives would only partially meet the 30% reduction goal by 2030.

Despite efforts to reduce the amount of methane that cows belch forth, analysis has showed that the UK is still well behind schedule in reaching its international commitments to reduce emissions.

In the government’s “green day” of energy announcements more than a week ago, ministers disclosed a number of steps to lower UK greenhouse gas emissions, including plans to introduce methane-suppressing feed for animals starting in 2025 and to halt biodegradable trash from flowing to landfills starting in 2028.

However, they fell short of the global methane pledge that the UK committed prior to the Cop26 meeting in Glasgow in 2021, reducing Britain’s methane emissions by 30% by 2030, according to a study by the Green Alliance think tank.

According to their findings, the government’s measures will result in a 14% reduction in UK methane output by 2030 when compared to 2020 levels.

An immediate ban on routine flaring and venting from gas and oil production rigs in the North Sea was one key measure to reduce methane emissions that ministers rejected. The former energy minister Chris Skidmore’s study of the UK’s net zero policy and recommendations from parliamentary committees called for the implementation of such a ban beginning in 2025, although the practice will be permitted to continue until at least 2030.

Offshore operators squander enough gas each year through flaring, venting, and undetected leaks to power at least 100,000 additional houses in addition to more than 750,000 dwellings.

According to the Green Alliance, there is still time to take action to reduce methane emissions in the UK in accordance with the promise and beyond. The UK could achieve a reduction of more than 40% by 2030 by bringing forward the ban on flaring and venting, requiring landfill operators to capture methane at a higher rate than what currently escapes from garbage dumps, repairing leaky gas mains more quickly, and encouraging a quicker uptake of methane-suppressing feed for livestock.

“Existing measures to tackle UK methane emissions are wholly inadequate, but it’s not too late to change things,” said Liam Hardy of the Green Alliance. The government ought to be able to present a strategy to reduce methane emissions by over 43%. This would place the UK in a strong leadership position ahead of the international climate negotiations later this year and help us go closer to net zero.

According to the government’s own estimate, the UK is also falling short of its overall climate commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The global methane commitment has now received the support of more than 100 nations. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has an influence on global warming that is nearly 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, although having a shorter atmospheric lifetime.

One of the quickest and safest methods to fend off the worst effects of the climate problem, according to scientific consensus, is to dramatically reduce methane emissions. This might help to limit global temperature increases by up to 0.5C within a few decades. However, the amount of methane emitted globally is continually increasing, and several nations have been understating their methane production.

Global emissions can now be seen in much more detail thanks to satellite imagery than in the past. The presence of more than 1,000 “super-emitting” methane facilities was recently made public by The Guardian.

The Green Alliance’s results were contested by the UK government. “This analysis is wholly inaccurate. The UK has taken proactive and comprehensive steps to reduce methane emissions. According to this, UK methane emissions decreased by 62% between 1990 and 2020, more than any other OECD nation, a representative stated.

We are moving farther and quicker to cut emissions in accordance with the net zero plan, carbon budgets, and the global methane commitment, a global reduction objective because we recognize the necessity of doing more.

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