Methane in the Spotlight

Ah methane… everyone’s (least) favourite greenhouse gas. We’re long-time non-fans of methane here at Subpod, because it’s one of the most potent and damaging greenhouse gases out there. It’s said to be responsible for more than 25% of today’s total global warming, and is more than 28x more powerful than Carbon Dioxide.

So it’s been heartening over the last few weeks to see methane in the spotlight, courtesy of the COP27 climate talks in Egypt in November. Methane was a hot topic, with urgent action being urged to reduce emissions.

We want to give you a bit of background today, to COP27, to methane and to what the outcomes of the talks were with regards to methane reduction.

What is COP27?

In 1992, 197 countries signed up to the United Nations National Framework on Climate Change. They’re called the ‘parties’, and every year they meet for COP, or Conference of Parties. This is the 27th time they’ve met, hence COP27.

The conference took place in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt and over 35,000 delegates attended. They included President Biden, plus over 100 other heads of state. It was a perfect platform for big decisions to be made, and indeed they were. Let’s just hope they lead to firm action on the ground too!

Why the Focus on Methane?

We began measuring methane emissions 40 years ago. Since then, the last two years have seen the largest increases in the amount of this greenhouse gas we’re pumping into the atmosphere through industry, agriculture and landfill. The amount of methane in the atmosphere today has more than doubled since industrialisation. That’s a real cause for concern... methane emissions are on the rise and it's a serious challenge for our climate.

Experts are also urging a reduction in human caused methane emissions because it has a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere. It only lasts for around 12 years, which is way less than other powerful greenhouse gases. This means if we cut down our emissions now, we’ll be onto a win with methane levels in the future. That’s a big win, when you consider the massive harmful effect it's having on our environment.

Methane Emissions at COP27

There was a lot of talk about methane at COP27, but what were the actual outcomes?

Well, at COP26 the ‘Global Methane Pledge’ (GMP) was launched, with a desired effect of reducing methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030. At COP27, more than 150 countries signed up to this pact. This is an increase of 50 from COP26. Of the 150 signatories, 50 have provided detailed strategies around how they're going to cut emissions. Additionally, 95% of the attendees made promises to reduce methane emissions.

To help bring accountability for methane emissions, the UN has announced a high-tech, satellite based global methane detection system. The Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) uses data from global mapping satellites to identify global methane plumes. It can then link these to the source, and notify governments or companies who can then take the necessary action. This will really help bring transparency to the methane problem.

There were a number of other initiatives in the GMP pledge tackling emissions in the oil, gas, agriculture and waste sectors. Included in these is an effort to help smallholder farmers in developing countries reduce methane outputs from their dairy farms. Also a large grant was put towards research on enteric fermentation, which is the process by which farm animals produce methane.

So they’ve talked the talk, now we wait and see if countries can walk the walk. China and India, who are the two biggest methane emitters in the world, aren’t signatories to the pledge, and neither is Russia. That’s a bit of a shame.

What Can You Do About Methane Emissions?

Governments can sign on dotted lines and make these commitments and that's all well and good. But methane is a human-produced emission, and as humans we’re all responsible for it in some way or other. So what can you, as an individual, do to reduce the amount of methane you’re putting into the atmosphere?

A great place to start is by composting your food waste. When you toss your food waste into the bin and it ends up in landfill, it slowly rots away and produces methane in the process. If we stopped wasting food, 6-8% of greenhouse gas emissions could be prevented.

By composting your household organic food waste you’re keeping it out of landfill and creating nutritious compost for your garden in the process. It’s a powerful way to contribute to the fight against methane emissions.

A worm farm compost bin from Subpod makes home composting easy. It’s super simple to set up and takes very little maintenance as you go. Whatever the size of your household or the space you have available, we have a home composting system for you. Have a look at our range and you’ll see what we mean! If you’re looking for some vermicomposting information, here’s an article to kickstart you on your way to becoming a worm expert!

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