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COP26: Farming can be part of the Global Methane Pledge

COP26: Farming can be part of the Global Methane Pledge

Recycling of organic waste is going to play a critical role in the management of some of the most harmful greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity on the planet.

At the COP26 summit this week, world leaders pledged to cut methane emissions levels by 30% by 2030. But how are they going to achieve this?

The Global Methane Pledge is an international initiative, tabled by the US and European Union, intended to help slow down global warming. Methane has been identified as a major source of global warming.

Over 100 countries have now signed up to the Global Methane Pledge. Controlling methane has been seen as a potential short-term win in the battle against climate change as it has a more powerful warming effect in the atmosphere.

The biogas industry is especially well-placed to help with the global battle against climate change. The World Biogas Association is attending COP26 to make the case for the biogas industry as a way to manage what are called short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and back carbon.

According to the World Biogas Association, 50% of the Global Methane Pledge can be achieved by simply recycling the organic wastes humans generate through anaerobic digestion. A large proportion of that comes from activities like farming and also rubbish dumps and landfill. Methane is estimated to contribute x28 to x34 times more to global warming than CO2 when measured over a 100 year period.[1]

According to the United Nations Environment Program and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, cutting farming-related methane emissions will be critical in the battle against climate change. Livestock emissions account for roughly 32% of human-caused methane, but another 8% comes from other cultivation. Methane is a hazardous ground level ozone which is already causing an estimated 1 million premature deaths every year, according to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.[2]

The UK’s own National Farming Union has already set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Many farmers in the UK, like their counterparts elsewhere, are embarking on big changes in the way they manage their farms.

Individual farms are reducing their carbon footprints by shortening supply chains or managing mixed farming systems that make more efficient use of animal dung.

Other farmers are looking to on farm energy solutions that can assist with reducing carbon emissions and also provide cheaper energy. Anaerobic digestion plants, some of which have been financed by Prestige Funds and its specialist lending partner, are helping farmers to process farm waste and generate electricity at the same time.

COP26 represents an opportunity for governments, including the UK government, to assist farmers with the deployment of new technology, including carbon capture facilities. Fresh training and investment will be required to support the farming community.

COP26 has shone the light on methane emissions, and the farming industry is going to have to be part of the solution. It can achieve this with technology like biogas plants, which can turn much of the waste generated by farms into biogas which can in turn help to meet local energy demands.

[1] SOURCE: UNECE The Challenge | UNECE

[2] SOURCE: Global Methane Assessment (full report) | Climate & Clean Air Coalition (ccacoalition.org)