UN Launches Satellite System To Track Methane Emissions

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…Nigeria, US, China, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico account for half of all anthropogenic methane emissions

The United Nations has announced the decision to a satellite-based system meant to detect and and control methane emissions.  Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Nigeria, China, the United States, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico are estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all anthropogenic methane emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. 

Methane, the second-most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, accounts for about 20% of emissions and is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Last Friday, at the ongoing COP27 climate summit in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh, the UN Environment Programme announced that it would the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), a data-to-action platform that is expected to allow UNEP to corroborate emissions reported by companies and characterize changes over time.

In a statement, UNEP said MARS will be implemented with partners including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UNEP-hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition.   

MARS will be the first publicly available system and it will use high-tech satellite data to identify major emission events, notify relevant stakeholders, and support and mitigation progress.
“Beginning with very large point sources from the energy sector, MARS will integrate data from the rapidly expanding system of methane-detecting satellites to include lower-emitting area sources and more frequent detection,” UNEP said.

The UN holds that Methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled over the last two centuries, predominantly due to human-related activities.

“Reducing methane emissions can make a big and rapid difference, as this gas leaves the atmosphere far quicker than carbon dioxide,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP.

“As UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report showed before this climate summit, the world is far off on efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C,” Andersen added.


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