Making an Impact on Methane

Cool Effect
4 min readMay 2, 2024

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When it comes to climate change, methane isn’t mentioned nearly as often as carbon dioxide — but that doesn’t make it any less important. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and while it may be shorter-lived in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide, it’s significantly more efficient at trapping heat.

In fact, methane is around 25 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. So while it remains in the atmosphere for a shorter duration (usually somewhere between 7 and 12 years, while carbon dioxide can linger for centuries) its impact is intense, profound, and immediate. Some main sources of methane emissions include agriculture, landfills, livestock, and leaks from fossil fuel extraction and processing.

Global methane emissions reached a high of 11.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2022 — around 21 percent of all total global greenhouse gas emissions that year. Methane emissions have also risen by more than 32 percent since 1990. Addressing these key areas, and reducing these numbers, are crucial for the short-term impact of climate change and achieving a sustainable future.

The good news is that movements to curb methane’s momentum are beginning to pick up steam. Around 150 countries have now joined the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce methane emissions from human activity by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. And while other recent policy decisions and promises of penalties should help address some methane emissions in the long term, we don’t need to wait for the long term to do something about it. This is a problem where immediate climate action, funded by verified carbon credits, can have an immediate benefit. Here are three examples of how high quality Carbon Done Correctly projects are using carbon credits to make a real impact, right now, for both the planet and its people.

Power For Our Planet

In the United States alone, methane emissions from landfills can generate emissions approximately equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 23.1 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year — or the CO2 emissions generated by nearly 13.1 million homes’ annual energy use. Worldwide, landfill waste is currently responsible for about 11% of global methane emissions, but according to the World Bank, that number is expected to increase about 70% as populations continue to grow.

In Brazil, the problem of landfill generated emissions is particularly potent — the country is the fifth largest emitter of methane gas in the world, and they compound that problem by having no mandatory policies regarding capture or destruction of the gas in landfills. That’s why one project on the Cool Effect platform, “Power For Our Planet,” is particularly impactful. It focuses on capturing those methane emissions right at the source, and converting them into clean energy for the planet and well-paying jobs for the community.

Here’s how it works: first, the methane gas that was previously released by the landfill is now collected through the installation of pipelines. Emissions are reduced through the destruction of the gas collected in the pipes, then distributed to a flaring system and to a power plant. The electricity generated by this process is then exported to the grid, avoiding the generation of the same amount of electricity from fossil-fuel-based power plants in the Brazilian National Grid.

The funding from carbon credits pays for training and employment from members of the local community, ensuring that they not only receive cleaner air and energy, the local economy benefits as well.

Doo Doo Does More

Landfills and food waste aren’t the only thing driving methane emissions, however. A single cow produces between 154 to 264 pounds of methane gas per year. Even if you don’t factor in the emissions of any other type of livestock, cattle alone emit at least 231 billion pounds of methane into the atmosphere annually.

In rural areas of the Maharashtra State of India, traditional cooking practices exacerbate the emissions problem thanks to the community’s reliance on traditional wood burning stoves in the home. Nearly 70% of rural households there currently rely on firewood for cooking, which not only releases more carbon into the atmosphere, it adds harmful soot and air pollution into the home, which typically harms women and children most. Additionally, the local community meets their fuel needs by aggressively cutting local forests, often selling any excess wood in the marketplace.

This project relies on verified carbon credits to help fund residents’ transition from a wood-burning stove to a biodigester. Biodigesters turn cow dung and human waste into methane gas and provide a cleaner, more efficient, sustainable fuel while reducing emissions, indoor pollution, and curbs the demand for wood, protecting local forests.

Cow waste is shoveled into a biodigester that houses anaerobic microorganisms that feed on biodegradable material. When they break down the cow dung, the byproduct is methane gas that is used for fuel, allowing cleaner burning stoves that keep methane out of the atmosphere.

The benefits for programs like these go far beyond simply reducing emissions — it also drops the need for firewood usage by nearly 95%, saves families time and money they would have spent collecting or purchasing firewood, reduces pollution in the home, improves local sanitation thanks to dedicated waste storage locations, and provides a clean, organic fertilizer that’s richer than what is available for purchase.

Methane pollution is not a problem that is going to go away overnight, but it’s definitely an aspect of climate change that we can reduce both immediately and tangibly. By supporting high quality carbon projects like these, powered by verified carbon credits, individuals and organizations can make an immediate impact on methane and provide immediate benefits to those communities who need it most.

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