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Basic Information

Diagram of the methane molecule: four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom.

Background: Why Is Methane Important?

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, accounts for 16% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from human activities. Because methane is both a powerful GHG and short-lived compared to carbon dioxide, achieving significant reductions would have a rapid and significant effect on atmospheric warming potential.

EPA’s Methane Web site provides detailed information about methane’s role as a GHG; the sources of methane and current emission levels; projections of future methane emissions and the costs associated with reducing those emissions; and EPA’s voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions within the United States.

Global Methane Initiative logoThe Global Methane Initiative is an international initiative that advances cost-effective, near-term methane recovery and use as a clean energy source. The Global Methane Initiative Web site Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer contains the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on Initiative activities.”


Opportunities to Reduce Methane Emissions

The partnership is working to reduce methane emissions in four key sectors: agriculture (animal waste management), coal mines, landfills, and oil and gas systems.  In each sector, existing cost-effective technologies and practices can be employed to reduce emissions and generate clean energy.

Sector fact sheets >> Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

 

Initiative Energy and Greenhouse Gas Benefits

The Initiative has the potential to deliver, by 2015, annual reductions in methane emissions of up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE) or recovery of 500 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas. These measurable results, if achieved, could lead to stabilized or even declining levels of global atmospheric concentrations of methane. To give a sense of scale, this would be equivalent to:


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