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Rising methane levels could be a big obstacle in climate change mitigation

On August 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest Working Group I report that, for the first time, included a chapter on short-lived climate forcers such as methane and aerosols. Short-lived climate forcers, as the name suggests, are greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere for relatively shorter periods – compared to carbon dioxide.

Human emissions of carbon dioxide are the primary driver of climate change. Methane remains in the atmosphere for just about a decade, compared to centuries for carbon dioxide, but human emissions of methane are second only to carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Methane Assessment, 2021.

The latest IPCC report is the first of four expected ahead of the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, this October. It comes at a time when the world is experiencing extreme weather events more frequently than ever, be it flooding in western India or wildfires in southern Europe and the US.

The IPCC report underlines the need for countries to take action to curb methane emissions as a step toward meeting the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.

India is the third-largest source of methane emissions, a paper supported by the European Union’s climate change project has found. Both the paper and the United Nations…

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