Markey Urges U.S. to Cut Methane in Revising Its Climate Pledge – Reality Check: ‘Methane: The Irrelevant Greenhouse Gas’
U.S. pledge would prod global action, senator writes
President Joe Biden must pursue deep reductions in methane from the oil and gas industry as he moves to ramp up an Obama-era pledge to cut planet-warming emissions, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Biden today.
The new president, Markey said, can “solidify the U.S. position as a global leader in combating climate change by including a methane emissions reduction target” as the U.S. looks to strengthen for the first time the pledge it made in the run-up to the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Cutting methane, the largest component of natural gas, is critical to the global efforts to address climate change because it’s roughly 80 times more “potent” in warming the planet over a 20-year period than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide, Markey wrote.
Including methane reductions in a revamped U.S. climate pledge would put that challenge front and center for world leaders participating in a U.S.-hosted international climate summit beginning April 22, the senator wrote.
The U.S. is expected to unveil its updated pledge—known as a Nationally Determined Contribution—later this week amid calls for it to strengthen the Obama target, under which the U.S. pledged a 26% to 28% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, from 2005 levels.
Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, but formal withdrawal came one day after the November election. President Joe Biden put the U.S. back in the deal within days of taking office in January.
Biden already has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to consider replacing a Trump rule that lifted curbs on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.
Greenhouse gases include ubiquitous water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and above all, carbon dioxide, a gas released when fossil fuels are burned to power transportation, generate electricity, and are used to manufacture amenities of modern life..So far, climate crusaders have refrained from vilifying water vapor and clouds, which make the largest contribution to greenhouse warming of the earth. Carbon dioxide, demonized as “carbon pollution,” is an improbable villain….
Water vapor, and the clouds that condense from it, warm the earth’s surface at least four times more than does carbon dioxide. Paleoclimate data show little correlation between CO2 and climate, suggesting that the effects of CO2 are, in fact, marginal. Doubling CO2 concentrations alone should increase the earth’s surface temperature by about 1 C. Climate crusaders use computer models that include clouds, convective heat transfer in the atmosphere and oceans, and other factors to claim that “positive feedbacks” increase the predicted warming to 4.5 C or more. Supposedly, the direct consequences of any change are amplified. This would violate Le Chatelier’s principle that says “when a settled system is disturbed, it will adjust to diminish the change that has been made to it.” …
“In another spasm of crusading fervor, some climate warriors want to do away with traditional farming and ranching because they are sources of the minor greenhouse gases, such as methane from ruminant livestock, paddy rice, etc., and nitrous oxide, mainly from fertilizer use. (In this context, the word “minor” should be explained: The warming per added methane molecule is about 30 times greater than the warming per added carbon-dioxide molecule. Carbon-dioxide molecules are being added to the atmosphere at 300 times the rate of methane molecules. So the warming added each year from methane is about 10 times less than the small warming from carbon dioxide.) This could threaten the livelihoods of farmers in countries whose governments have signed on to the Paris agreement. But, as noted above, the warming from methane is only one-tenth of the modest, beneficial warming of more carbon dioxide.
The crusade against methane and nitrous oxide will be all pain and no gain for farmers and for those who consume their produce.”