Methane leak near COP26 venue underscores emissions challenge

A robust greenhouse fuel chargeable for 40 per cent of the world’s warming over the previous decade is spewing into the environment from a web site in Glasgow not removed from the place the COP26 local weather summit is ready to start.

Methane from a fuel pipeline close to to Ibrox soccer stadium, detected by researchers from Royal Holloway College of London, is leaking at a fee equal to 50 tonnes per 12 months — the identical because the emissions of 500 cows — the researchers estimated.

“It was strikingly bigger than the opposite leaks we noticed,” mentioned Rebecca Fisher, the educational who discovered the invisible plume utilizing car-mounted measuring devices. “It actually stood out.”

Methane would be the prime precedence at COP26, which begins on October 31 only a mile away from the big leak, as delegates might be requested for the primary time to enroll to a pledge to slash emissions.

The dedication, backed by the US and EU, has already gained assist from 33 international locations which have pledged to chop emissions by 30 per cent over the subsequent decade, though massive emitters China, Russia and India haven’t but signed up.

Slicing methane emissions was “the quickest technique we’ve got” to restrict world warming to the 1.5C degree, in accordance with US local weather envoy John Kerry, as set down as the best purpose below the Paris settlement that goals to maintain warming properly beneath 2C.

Map animation showing methane readings as scientists drove around Glasgow near the COP26 venue. First leak detected at Cambuslang Road with a leak rate of about 64 litres per minute, equivalent to 22 tonnes of methane per year.  Large leak at Ibrox detected with a leak rate of 145 litres per minute, which if at a constant rate would be 50 tonnes of methane per year —equivalent to the methane emissions of 500 cows  *Calculations are very approximate. Measurements were just for one specific time per location.  Over the three days, a total of 85 leaks were detected during journeys totalling 350km. On average there was one leak for every 4km driven.

“The methane pledge would be the single most necessary avenue for progress at Glasgow,” mentioned Paul Bledsoe, a local weather adviser below former US president Invoice Clinton now on the Progressive Coverage Institute think-tank.

Slicing methane would gradual near-term temperature rises, he added, which was important to assist keep away from local weather “tipping factors” in pure techniques.

Methane is about 80 instances stronger than carbon dioxide by way of pound-for-pound warming potential over a 20-year time interval. However as a result of it stays within the environment for less than a few decade — whereas CO2 can stay for a century or extra — chopping methane emissions can have a faster impact on temperatures.

Methane is the foremost ingredient in pure fuel, and fossil fuels account for about 35 per cent of human-caused emissions. Waste and landfills account for a few fifth and agriculture for about 40 per cent.

3d map showing the UK's methane emissions for 2019

Washington and Brussels are each getting ready new methane laws — which may come as quickly as subsequent week within the US. One measure below dialogue within the EU is whether or not to manage methane emissions related to imported fuel.

Nonetheless, the leak close to the COP26 venue exhibits that methane emissions are sometimes from mundane sources. After driving 350km round Scotland’s largest metropolis, Fisher discovered emissions each 4 kilometres on common, together with 4 classed as massive or medium-sized.

“That’s simply fuel that’s wasted,” she mentioned. “Fuel leaks are in all probability the simplest ones to repair in contrast with the opposite anthropogenic sources of methane.”

SGN, the distribution firm which operates Glasgow’s pipelines, mentioned it was conscious of the Ibrox leak and deliberate to repair it, however that it couldn’t change off the fuel instantly and keep buyer provide. An in depth pipe substitute programme was below approach within the metropolis, it added.

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