Global Methane Pledge of COP26

At the Global Climate Change Summit COP26 held in Glasgow, UK, a “Global Methane Pledge” was reached. 105 countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 (compared with the level in 2020). Methane (CH4) is the second most critical greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). It has been reported that the current impact of CH4 on global warming is as high as 30% [1].

One of the most important industries causing CH4 emissions is the mining industry of petrochemical energy. This time, 15 countries with the highest emissions of CH4 have signed in the pledge, including the European Union, Indonesia, and Iraq. Among them, Canada’s pledge is the most aggressive one which promises to reduce CH4 emissions by 70% by 2030!

So, where are the regions with the highest concentrations of CH4 in the world? How important is the impact of these countries that have not signed their commitments on reducing emissions? What is the trend of CH4 concentration changes in the past few years?

The following maps show the offline methane concentration data (OFFL CH4) collected by the Sentinel 5P satellite of the EU/ESA/Copernicus program mapped by using the Google Earth Engine. The plotted global CH4 concentration (measured by the column average ppbV of the air mixing ratio).

Figures 1, 2, and 3 are the CH4 averages in October 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively. With “black”, “blue”, “purple”, “cyan”, “green”, “yellow”, and “red” represent levels of methane from 1750 to 1900 ppbV. Blue and black areas indicate lower CH4 levels, and yellow and red indicate higher CH4 levels.

Figure 1 Global CH4 level distribution map in October 2019, source: Google Earth Engine
Figure 2 Global CH4 level distribution map in October 2020, source: Google Earth Engine
Figure 3 Global CH4 level distribution map in October 2021, source: Google Earth Engine

The three figures clearly show that CH4 is on the rise in the past three years (more and more red areas). Take Europe and the United States as an example. In 2019, only a small number of areas recorded high red CH4 levels, but then in 2021, almost the entire United States and European Union have recorded high levels of CH4, reflecting the seriousness of the situation.

US President Joe Biden called this pledge a “Game Changer” and has worked with the European Union to lead the initiative. He said, “One of the most important things we can do to keep 1.5°C in reach is reduce our methane emissions” [1].

See if you are interested in learning how to use the Google Earth Engine to draw these maps. These tools can help friends in the environmental protection community better master satellite big data and geographic information, so as to promote the reduction of greenhouse gases, and work together to achieve the goal of zero emissions!

References:
[1] Vaughan, A. (2021) COP26: 105 countries pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent, New Scientist, November 2. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2295810-cop26-105-countries- pledge-to-cut-methane-emissions-by-30-per-cent/#ixzz7BJfzz57Z

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