Background: Why Is Methane Important?
Methane, the primary component of natural gas, accounts for 16% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from human activities. Because methane is both a powerful GHG and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential.
EPA’s Methane Web site provides detailed information about methane’s role as a GHG; the sources of methane and current emission levels; projections of future methane emissions and the costs associated with reducing those emissions; and EPA’s voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions within the United States.
The Global Methane Initiative is an international initiative that advances cost-effective, near-term methane recovery and use as a clean energy source. The Global Methane Initiative Web site contains the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on Initiative activities.” See GMI's Accomplishments Poster for a brief overview.
Opportunities to Reduce Methane Emissions
The partnership is working to reduce methane emissions in four key sectors: agriculture (animal waste management), coal mines, landfills, and oil and gas systems. In each sector, existing cost-effective technologies and practices can be employed to reduce emissions and generate clean energy.
Initiative Energy and Greenhouse Gas Benefits
The Initiative has the potential to deliver, by 2015, annual reductions in methane emissions of up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE) or recovery of 500 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas. These measurable results, if achieved, could lead to stabilized or even declining levels of global atmospheric concentrations of methane. To give a sense of scale, this would be equivalent to:
- Removing 33 million cars from the roadways for one year, planting 55 million acres of trees, or eliminating emissions from fifty 500 megawatt coal-fired power plants; or
- Providing enough energy to heat approximately 7.2 million households for one year.