COP27: UN to launch satellite-based system to track methane emission

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Sharm-El Sheikh: To mitigate the impact the Methane gas and to slow down its impact, United Nations has announced to launched a new satellite-based system to detect its emission and allow governments and businesses to respond.

The Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), launched at the 27 United Nations climate change conference is a data-to-action platform set up as part of the UNEP International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) strategy to get policy-relevant data into the right hands for emissions mitigation.

In the last few years, there has been a lot of emphasis on reducing methane emissions. Methane is the second-most common of the six major greenhouse gases, but is far more dangerous than carbon dioxide in its potential to cause global warming.

Accounting for about 17 per cent of the current global greenhouse gas emissions, methane is blamed for having caused at least 25 to 30 per cent of temperature rise since the pre-industrial times.

According to the international Panel on Climate change, there is need to cut methane emissions at least 30 percent by 2030 to keep the 1.5 degrees temperature limits within reach.

At the Glasgow climate conference last year, nearly 100 countries had come together in a voluntary pledge now referred to as the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 from the 2020 levels.

More countries have joined in this initiative since then, bringing the total to nearly 130. A 30 per cent reduction in methane emissions by 2030 is expected to result in avoiding 0.2 degree rise in temperature by the year 2050, and is considered absolutely essential in the global efforts to keep the temperature increase below the 1.5-degree Celsius target.

 “Reducing methane emissions can make a big and rapid difference, as this gas leaves the atmosphere far quicker than carbon dioxide. The Methane Alert and Response System is a big step in helping governments and companies deliver on this important short-term climate goal” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

In addition to supporting MARS, the Global Methane Hub and the Bezos Earth Fund are providing funding for other UNEP IMEO activities.

These include baseline studies and initial work on agricultural methane emissions, where integrating multi-scale ground measurements with emerging satellite capacity is expected to provide improved quantification.

“Cutting methane is the fastest opportunity to reduce warming and keep 1.5°C within reach, and this new alert and response system is going to be a critical tool for helping all of us deliver on the Global Methane Pledge,” said John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

“We are seeing methane emissions increase at an accelerated rate. With this initiative, armed with greater data and transparency, companies and governments can make greater strides to reduce methane emissions and civil society can keep them accountable to their promises,” said Dr. Kelly Levin, Chief of Science, Data and Systems Change at the Bezos Earth Fund.

“The science is clear. We need to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030, to keep 1.5°C alive. Fortunately, action on methane emissions is one of the most cost effective and impactful action a country can take,” said Marcelo Mena, CEO Global Methane Hub.

The MARS initiative is intended to strengthen these efforts. It would feed into the recently formed International Methane Emissions Observatory of the UN Environment Programme. To start with, MARS will track the large point emission sources, mainly in the fossil fuel industry, but with time, would be able to detect emissions from coal, waste, livestock and rice fields as well, a UN statement said.

Developed in the framework of the with initial funding from the European Commission, the US Government, Global Methan Hub and the Bezos Earth Fund – MARS will allow UNEP to corroborate emissions reported by companies and characterize changes over time. MARS will be implemented with partners including the International Energy Agency and the UNEP hosted climate and Clean Air Coalition.

In addition to supporting MARS, the Global Methane Hub and the Bezos Earth Fund are providing funding for other UNEP IMEO activities.

These include baseline studies and initial work on agricultural methane emissions, where integrating multi-scale ground measurements with emerging satellite capacity is expected to provide improved quantification.

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