On 6 May 2021, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) published a global methane assessment, detailing the benefits and costs of mitigating methane emissions. The report estimates that cutting human-caused methane emissions by 45% this decade would avoid nearly 0.3oC of global warming by 2045, consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement’s ambition to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5oC. The UNEP and CCAC note that most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors, fossil fuels, waste, and agriculture.
For the first time, the assessment integrates the climate and air pollution costs and benefits from methane mitigation. As methane is a key ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, the UNEP and CCAC estimate that a 45% reduction may prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat, and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually.
Source: UNEP, 6 May 2021