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How methane leaks speed up global warming

STORY: Methane leaks are speeding up global warming.

They've become a top threat to the global climate in recent years -

with the leaks at two Russian gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea as the latest example.

Research has shown that reducing methane emissions is vital to averting the worst impacts of climate change -

and after decades of focusing on gas carbon dioxide -

policymakers are starting to recognize its threat.

“So there's urgent need to do something and there is a lot we can do...”

But what is methane?

It's the main component of natural gas

Some methane comes from natural sources like swamps but most comes from human activity

Source: Climate and Clean Air Coalition data

Two-thirds of those human-caused emissions come from livestock farming and fossil fuels

Much of the rest are from decomposing waste and rice cultivation.

Scientists say methane is much more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas in the short term

Methane breaks down in the atmosphere in a fraction of the time compared to CO2 - but it has a front-loaded impact

When you compare the effects of both over a century -

Research shows methane is 28 times worse

But over two decades - that figure jumps to 80

In 2021 over 100 nations signed a pledge to slash emissions from 2020 levels

"So, together, we're committed to collectively reduce our methane by thirty percent by 2030 and I think we could probably go beyond that."

World governments, including the United States, are introducing requirements that the oil and gas industry detect and repair leaks after studies showed leaks in the industry were a huge problem.

And the world is close to crossing a so-called 'tipping point' -

where climate feedback loops kick in to make global warming self-perpetuating.

One study says that events that could touch off those loops are imminent -

like the collapse of the Greenland Ice sheet - or the melting of Arctic permafrost.