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The United Nations is launching a satellite-based system to detect and track global methane emissions as part of efforts to reduce emissions of methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
During the COP27 climate summit in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh, the UN Environment Programme announced on Friday it would launch the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), a data-to-action platform that is expected to allow UNEP to corroborate emissions reported by companies and characterize changes over time. MARS will be implemented with partners including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UNEP-hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition, UNEP said in a statement.
MARS will be the first publicly available global system and it will use high-tech satellite data to identify major emission events, notify relevant stakeholders, and support and track mitigation progress.
“Beginning with very large point sources from the energy sector, MARS will integrate data from the rapidly expanding system of methane-detecting satellites to include lower-emitting area sources and more frequent detection,” UNEP said.
Methane, the second-most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, accounts for around 20 percent of global emissions and is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled over the last two centuries, predominantly due to human-related activities. China, the United States, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico are estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all anthropogenic methane emissions, according to the agency.
“Reducing methane emissions can make a big and rapid difference, as this gas leaves the atmosphere far quicker than carbon dioxide,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
“As UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report showed before this climate summit, the world is far off track on efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” Andersen added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.