Last year, global methane emissions rose to an all-time high. Partly for this reason, an initiative has been set up to reduce emissions. Austria is now also joining this coalition of more than 100 countries.
Climate Protection Secretary Leonore Gewessler (Greens) announced the entry after meeting US Climate Commissioner John Kerry. The ministry said the meeting took place as part of the Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh. “If Austria wants to be at the forefront of climate protection, we have to do our part everywhere. It was time for Austria to join the international coalition to reduce methane emissions,” Gewessler said.
The aim of the initiative
Methane is one of the strongest greenhouse gases, it is about 80 times more harmful to the climate than CO2. It is released in agriculture during the digestion process of livestock and in the natural gas, oil and coal industries. The initiative aims to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020.
Disagreement over reasons for output increase
However, it is still not definitively clarified why the methane concentration in the atmosphere is currently increasing so rapidly. At the turn of the millennium, the methane level was stable for about ten years, only since 2007 it has risen sharply again. Where the extra gas comes from is disputed even among experts. The sources are difficult to prove with certainty because there are many natural and artificial sources of methane, including in agriculture, the changes of which are not easy to measure.
Dangerous tipping point
Numerous experts suspect that leaks in the production (e.g. fracking) and distribution of natural gas are the main cause of the problem, as production has increased significantly since the turn of the millennium – but there are also analyzes that contradict this. Recently, researchers warned in the journal “Nature Climate Change” that Europe’s permafrost peatlands could soon reach a tipping point and release large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane as a result of ongoing global warming. If methane escapes unchecked from permafrost, it fuels the climate crisis – a vicious circle.