Recently, at UN COP26 climate conference, the world countries adopted Global Methane Pledge, a proposal though led by United States and the European Union, has now been signed by more than 100 leaders of the world.
The agreement will work on how to reduce methane emissions by up to 30 per cent as compared to 2020 levels, by the year 2030.
This is important because nearly 75% of this methane can be treated with nearly 40% of these requiring no additional costs altogether.
A thing to note is that a few major emitters like Russia, China and even India have not pledged to control the same.
Methane emissions and its reign in India:
The source of world warming gases like carbon-di-oxide, methane etc., shall be known so that effective emission reduction strategies for the nation can be aptly prepared.
Methane gas gets produced when organic material undergoes anaerobic (oxygen-free) decomposition, being the main component of natural gas and various human activities.
India’s methane budget:
Through the information collated using Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research and India’s First Biennial Update Report to its National Communications, there had been studies claiming the total annual methane emissions from India to be 22.0 trillion grams per year or 24 million tons.
While another report by Global Energy Monitor in 2021, has claimed this to be around 45 million tonnes for India.
India emits third largest amount of Methane in the world, the reason being its agriculture-allied Rural economy and consequent large cattle use.
Under its second National communication to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it categorized the sources of its methane emissions: manure, natural gas and oil production, coal mines, municipal waste, wetlands etc.
How can this be solved?
A UNEP assessment in this regard has suggested India to adopt and boost existing low-cost technologies those help in reduction of methane emissions. It includes better waste and livestock management practices.
Even the methane emitted while using fossil fuels, can also be captured for further use as an alternative valuable energy source.
Fossil-fuel leaked methane can be lessened by continuously surveying and maintenance of gas pipelines, which can then be captured and used.
“However, any measures to reduce methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector should be undertaken as part of a clear plan to ultimately phase out oil, gas and coal production and consumption”.
“Methane can be captured from manure, waste and wastewater management systems and used to replace higher CO2-intensive energy sources such as wood, coal and oil”, as per a study on Methane.
MNRE says: “The biogas strategy includes many policy initiatives, capacity building, and public-private partnerships. In addition to promoting biogas development, the strategy supports goals for sustainable development, sanitation improvements, and increased generation of renewable energy.”
To curb this percentage, India is investing its time and efforts on diverting this to biogas production plant, for which alone MNRE provides 30-35 percent of costs incurred in the project to set up the biogas plants.
Ministry’s another scheme called GOBAR-Dhan has been devised to provide one solution to two problems of rural India: improve sanitation and address energy constraints.
By funding such local projects, built to process livestock manure and agricultural waste in order to yield biogas, MNRE is helping to upscale an additional income for rural livelihoods.
There is a provision of 100 percent funding of the project cost for small-scale digesters as well as larger-scale dairy projects in villages, especially if they tend to generate usable waste.
The paper has also advocated consuming meat or dairy products, producing much of the GHGs, with lesser GHG-intensive foods.
Can India make conforming policies to eliminate emissions? And why it can’t?
India needs to balance its emissions.
As per a 2019 study on methane emissions in India, nearly 18% of these can be abated through early adoption of mitigation measures.
This includes three improved farming those can help achieve more than half of the emission reductions: efficient use of fertilizers in fields, zero tillage and better water management in rice farming.
However, to make such policies, we need policymakers who are aware of the scenario and are concerned about it.
For instance, Green parties, earlier in fringes in European Union, now hold more than 10% of its total seats. Consequently, EU has been at the forefront of leading the fight against emissions.
Despite the country’s efforts to achieve energy sufficiency and the goal of development, India needs to balance the needs of environment too. Though it has received lesser time to prosper but this narrative lies dead if climate change works in its own vicious ways.
There is surely no way of ignoring UN Secretary General’s opening statement at COP that the world has been careening towards a climate catastrophe.
One cannot help, simply by blaming each other. All the world countries need to unite now, for a viable future, livable planet and for the sake of human lives. India can begin the change.