Health

Methane mitigation would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, UN report says

By - Integrated Care Journal

Methane mitigation would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, UN report says

A landmark report, published last week by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), found that achieving a 45 per cent reduction in methane emissions within this decade would prevent more than 250,000 premature deaths.

The report, which for the first time analysed the health benefits of methane mitigation, revealed that because of methane’s contribution to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog), a 45 per cent in reduction in methane emissions would bring several health benefits, including preventing 260,000 premature deaths.

In addition to health benefits, the report found that cutting methane emissions is also crucial in tackling climate change. UNEP’s Chief Executive Inger Aderson said that it is the strongest action available to slow global heating in the short-term.

Such reduction would also avoid nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045, keeping the world on track to meet the Paris climate agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature to rise to 1.5C.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more powerful than carbon dioxide, and it’s responsible for approximately 40 per cent of global warming. It remains in the atmosphere for a relatively short time, unlikely CO2, which remains in the atmosphere for centuries.

Most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste, and agriculture, the report says.

Methane emissions have continued to rise over recent decades, with record highs recorded in 2020 despite Covid-19 restrictions. According to the UNEP report, methane emissions can be reduced significantly using existing technology and at a relatively low cost within this decade.

Lead author and Professor of Climate Science at Duke University Drew Shindell said: “To achieve global climate goals, we must reduce methane emissions while also urgently reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The good news is that most of the required actions bring not only climate benefits but also health and financial benefits, and all the technology needed is already available. ”

Full report available here


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