By the end of this century, global average temperatures are estimated to increase between 1.5°C and 4.5°C relative to the 1880s.
As the climate changes, there is a greater likelihood of extreme weather events, crop shortages, and sea level rise as a result of the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet.
While most people have heard about the ability of carbon dioxide to trap heat in the atmosphere, the role of methane as a significant contributor to climate change is less well known. Major sources of human caused methane emissions include the decomposition of waste in landfills, livestock production and fossil fuels. Our actions in upcoming years are critical to ensuring that global average temperatures do not exceed a 2°C increase above pre-industrial levels.
Unlike carbon dioxide that can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years, methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime. In a 20-year time frame, a single molecule of methane has the global warming potential of 86 molecules of carbon dioxide.
Methane therefore constitutes a highly concentrated and severe threat to immediate global temperatures, particularly in comparison to carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.