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Thursday, March 23, 2023

UN to search for methane emitters with data from space

Big emitters of the heat-trapping gas methane can expect a call from the United Nations as early as next year.

Big emitters of the heat-trapping methane gas can expect a call from the United Nations starting next year, when the global body launches a new platform to combine existing systems to track the potent greenhouse gas from space. .

The United Nations Environment Program said on Friday that the new Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) is intended to help companies act on major sources of emissions, but also to provide data transparently and independently.

It is based on satellite measurements made by NASA and the European, German and Italian space agencies. Data from private satellite operators will also be incorporated in the future.

“Each of these instruments gives us a correct answer to a question that is slightly different, because each of them sees different things,” said Manfredi Caltagirone, director of UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory. the correct image is to connect them all together.”

The data will be published between 45 and 75 days after it is collected, which means that companies will have enough time to correct the leaks when they become public.

“We think it’s important not just to create a shaming tool, but to engage operators and governments so they can act on the specific event,” Caltagirone said.

Publishing the measurements on a UN-backed platform would also ensure it is seen as neutral and trustworthy, providing a standard that prevents companies from seeking data that makes them look better, he said.

However, there will be no way to force issuers to take action.

“We are realistic that certain companies and certain countries will cooperate more than others,” Caltagirone said. “But we can make sure that this information is available to those who are interested in it.”

The first data will be released in the second half of next year, focusing on large methane leaks. As it matures, the platform will incorporate less dramatic but equally significant sources of emissions, such as cattle and rice farms.

Reducing methane emissions worldwide is key to the Paris climate agreement’s ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times. Last year, the United States, the European Union and others committed to reducing total methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.

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