Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas at the center of new rules and initiatives proposed at a major U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
While carbon dioxide is more abundant and longer-lived, methane – the main component of natural gas – is far more effective at trapping heat while it lasts. Over the first two decades after its release, methane is more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of warming the climate system.
Stanford-led research shows global emissions of methane from human activities have barreled upward in recent decades, with fossil fuel sources and agriculture powering the climb. Other studies have shown how how to improve estimates of methane leaking from oil and gas operations, outlined a process for converting the gas into carbon dioxide, and highlighted the climate impact of oilfields that routinely burn, or flare, natural gas.
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