Bioenergy

Countries Join Partnership to Harness Methane

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt is joining representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom in signing an agreement formally creating the Methane to Markets Partnership. This new global initiative serves to advance international cooperation on the recovery and use of methane as a valuable clean energy source.

Methane to Markets has the potential to reduce net methane emissions by up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent annually by 2015 and continue at that level or higher in the future. This would be the carbon equivalent of removing 33 million cars from roadways for one year, or eliminating emissions from 50, 500 MW coal-fired power plants. “Together we will harness the power of collaboration, technology and markets to achieve real, near-term reductions of global methane emissions,” Leavitt said. Today’s signing follows the administrator’s announcement in July that called for the creation of this partnership. Since that announcement, six additional countries have joined the partnership. They include Argentina, Brazil, China, Columbia, Nigeria and Russia. Methane is a clean-burning fuel that is the main component of natural gas and is also the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas from human sources. Significantly reducing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective ways to realize immediate environmental benefits because of methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas and its short atmospheric lifetime. Methane remains in the atmosphere for approximately 9-15 years and is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, capturing and using recovered methane provides a valuable, clean-burning energy source that improves quality of life in local communities. Countries participating in the Methane to Markets Partnership are expected to undertake activities aimed at capturing and using methane emitted from landfills, coalmines, and oil and gas systems. It is anticipated that developed countries will work with developing countries in undertaking these efforts. The Methane to Markets Partnership will also encourage active involvement by private industry, financial institutions and other non-governmental organizations. The United States will commit up to $53 million over the next five years to facilitate the development and implementation of methane projects in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. EPA will play a lead role in the partnership and coordinate efforts with several other departments including the Department of State, Department of Energy, the US Trade and Development Agency and the US Agency for International Development.