The Evolving Focus on Methane Emissions Reduction

In the fight against climate change, policymakers and the general population have long been aware of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the atmosphere. In fact, the discovery dates back over 150 years. And yet, with the growing realization and understanding that society must act in the near-term — and fast — to effect enough change to meet climate action goals, we have only just shifted focus to curbing methane emissions in recent years.

The Global Methane Pledge

While Eunice Foote saw the warming impact of carbon dioxide in 1856, it was 2021’s UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) where attendees and policymakers took action to limit methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that has 84-86x the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

During COP26, 103 countries signed the Global Methane Pledge with the goal to curb emissions by 30 percent, based on 2020 levels, by 2030. While we’re still (or only) six years away, there’s work to be done.

Methane Emissions Front & Center

By 2023’s COP28 in Dubai, more than 155 countries had signed the Global Methane Pledge — as more countries, government agencies, and NGOs now recognize that critical action is needed to reduce methane emissions. During COP28 meetings, discussions focused heavily on methane and how to reduce the potent greenhouse gas emissions. Key outcomes included identifying new financing sources to help mitigate non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, as well as the creation of the Oil and Gas Decarbonisation Charter (ODGC), an initiative within the oil and gas sector to focus on climate action.

Developing Emission Reduction Initiatives

Today, we can see the impact these far-reaching and more frequent discussions are having across industries. Collaboration between industry stakeholders, government agencies, and environmental organizations in support of effective methane capture and emission reduction strategies is essential, and we’re proud to see that coming to fruition.

This year alone, we’ve heard from people and organizations across the U.S. — in and outside the waste sector — on the need to curb methane emissions and the latest technology that can help achieve our goals:

  • Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) took part in a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works hearing entitled “Avoiding, Detecting, and Capturing Methane Emissions from Landfills.” During the hearing, Senator Markey spoke about LoCI’s system as immediately available and low-cost technology that increases methane capture and reduces emissions from landfills.


  • Business for Nature, a coalition of over 85 organizations aimed at achieving “a nature-positive economy for all by 2030,” released its sector guidance for waste management. The report, which incorporated feedback from industry experts — including the LoCI team — cited methane emission reduction from landfills as a top priority.

    Per the report, the urgent need exists to “Reduce your methane emissions by improving waste segregation, diverting organic waste from landfill, prioritizing landfill gas recovery, detecting and reducing fugitive GHG emissions and optimizing landfill cover and compaction. This will deliver rapid benefits through avoided warming…” Read the full report.

  • RMI, a nonprofit focused across geographies and stakeholders to “identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030,” launched an emissions measurement tool. Working with the Clean Air Task Force, RMI created their Waste Methane Assessment Platform, or WasteMAP, to provide an open-source platform that tracks measured, modeled, and observed methane emissions data.

  • In April, the journal Science published a research article entitled, “Quantifying methane emissions from United States landfills.” The research — which found that landfills emit more methane than previously thought — attracted significant attention with corresponding articles featured across media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and more.

Next Steps

We’ve undoubtedly made progress in recent years to focus on methane emissions — identifying the need to reduce these emissions and keep it at the forefront of policy discussions. However, additional work is needed on the part of governments and corporations active in voluntary carbon markets, to create policy and financial incentives to support these high-level — and crucial — goals to reduce landfill emissions. As large, concentrated sources of methane emissions, policies and incentives must specifically address landfills and bolster opportunities to quickly, cost effectively, and rapidly reduce methane emissions from this source.

With the lens now squarely on methane, we must continue to work together to effectively — and quickly — reduce these potent emissions to meet the Global Methane Pledge goals.

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