Why are we talking about methane?
Methane (CH4) is among the most potent greenhouse gases, largely due to its ability to keep heat in the atmosphere more than carbon dioxide (CO2) does, and methane emissions are also understood to be responsible for around 30% of global warming.
Methane emissions: global heating pollution
Methane emission mitigation is a critical climate solution, and here in Australia, we need effective legislation to regulate methane pollution.
Methane pollution has been largely ignored and under-regulated for years, and worryingly, methane emissions are always higher than officially reported.
Coal and oil mining are the second largest producers of methane emissions. As we transition toward a cleaner, renewable energy system, the most obvious and necessary way to cut methane emissions is to cease coal mining and consumption. In the meantime, methane emissions abatement is paramount to tackling global heating.
Reductions in fossil methane emissions can be secured by various measures, such as capturing methane being vented and leak detection and repair requirements.
Technologies to reduce methane emissions exist, but what we need is the political will to legislate.
We need regulations that:
- guarantee accurate reporting and
- policy measures to improve business practices that currently allow for hazardous methane emissions' needless leaking.
Investments in maintenance and operational changes can prevent methane from leaking into the atmosphere and are a fraction of the profits made by fossil fuel companies.
The relative costs to invest in these changes to maintenance and operations of the mines would reduce methane emissions leaking, a fraction of the costs compared to the astronomical (and immoral) profits fossil fuel companies make.
However, we need the right policy and regulations to implement these measures. Mining companies need incentives and instruction to address methane emissions, as currently they are doing little to nothing to minimise methane emissions.
Australia can look to international standards and agreements for inspiration and instruction on implementing these laws. The International Energy Agency has a roadmap for countries to consult when looking to reduce methane emissions.
These technological approaches to regulating industry should also be invested in alongside strong policy leadership to decrease fossil fuel operations in general, saying no to new expansions and new mines.
Health workers calling for methane emission abatement:
What is our role? As frontline workers to the health effects of catastrophic climate change, the single most significant global health emergency, we are taking the message about methane reduction to the Federal Government.
We want action on climate change now and are taking our concerns for the impact of climate change on health to the federal politicians, asking for them to consider the means necessary to commit to a national plan to reduce methane emissions from coal mining.