Methane Emissions Are Soaring, Report Finds, and Agriculture Is to Blame

Mere months after atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently surpassed a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, scientists have more bad news: emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—and show no sign of slowing.

That’s according to a new analysis published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The report, The Growing Role of Methane in Anthropogenic Climate Change, finds that “methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015,” observes

Methane is 28 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun, making its short-term effects on global warming far more severe.

 Agence France-Press reports that “the pace of recent [methane] emissions aligns with the most pessimistic scenarios laid out by the U.N.’s top science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” 

Indeed, the rising rate of methane emissions poses a threat to ambitious global goals to limit warming to 1.5ºC by 2100, as laid out in the Paris climate accord, experts note. And the current rise of 1ºC over preindustrial levels is already resulting in extreme weather and widespread extinctions.