Energy Exchange

Industry-backed white paper low-balls oil & gas methane impact

A white paper by the Gas Technology Institute’s Center for Methane Research is drawing attention in industry circles for arguing that methane emissions from the oil and gas sector have a much smaller impact on the global climate than virtually every other generally accepted scientific estimate.

That would be huge news if it were true. But unfortunately, the conclusion is rendered completely moot by a compounding series of fundamental errors. In fact, had the authors done their math accurately, their results would have been very much in line with mainstream research which shows that human-caused methane emissions are responsible for a quarter of the worldwide warming we’re experiencing today.

We can’t say whether the erroneous calculations were intentional or not. It’s worth noting, however, that EDF pointed out these mistakes to GTI staff when our scientists were asked to comment on a pre-publication draft. We will explain them again here, showing where the authors went wrong and what the numbers look like when they correctly reflect the underlying physics and chemistry.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New science suggests methane packs more warming power than previously thought

Methane (CH4) Molecule

It’s long been known that methane is a major contributor to global warming, responsible for roughly a quarter of the warming we’re experiencing today and second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on the current climate.

But research suggests methane has an even more potent warming effect on the climate than scientists previously thought.

For example, a study in Geophysical Research Letters significantly revises estimates of the energy trapped by methane by including its previously-neglected absorption of near-infrared radiation (past research included only infrared absorption—a different part of the radiation spectrum).

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

How Hot It Gets Vs. How Fast: Understanding The Two Kinds Of Climate Pollution

Methane-3D-ballsBy Ilissa Ocko and Steven Hamburg

A new study published in Nature Climate Change has caused some misunderstanding about the role short-lived climate pollutants like methane play in climate action, with some going as far as to argue that people are placing too much emphasis on methane. In fact, the analysis does far less to disrupt current thinking than these observers have suggested.

The study led by Myles Allen of the University of Oxford with five colleagues from around the globe is entirely consistent with the substantive scientific view that our best chance to limit warming and reduce its damages is to aggressively reduce emissions of both long-lived (i.e. carbon dioxide) and short-lived (i.e. methane) climate pollutants simultaneously, in order to reduce both the magnitude and the rate of warming.

The study focuses only on the first of these two metrics of climate change, the long term magnitude,  based on the authors’ stated assumption that the primary goal of climate policy is to limit “peak” warming (consistent with the Paris Agreement to keep global average temperature change well below 2ºC). Because carbon dioxide determines peak warming, the study is an important reminder that stabilizing climate requires progressive reductions of CO2 and other long-lived climate pollutants. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Just Two Actions May Stop the Planet's Runaway Warming

AND graphic2I was 15 and I was trying to impress a boyfriend with my rollerblading skills — from the top of a steep hill. Before I knew it, I was flying uncontrollably toward traffic. I knew I needed to both slow down and change course . . . or things wouldn't end well.

I did, and I survived, but I've recently thought about that day and those actions as I have considered the urgency needed for the planet to slow down and change course as the climate warms. With two major actions, we can slow the rate of global warming while also preventing "runaway" warming: nations must reduce emissions of both short-lived and long-lived pollutants.

All emissions are not equal

The way people talk and think about the long and short-term impacts of various greenhouse gasses is critical for making smart policy decisions that can effectively slow how fast the climate changes while limiting warming in the future. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane / Comments are closed