A new report has today warned the EU “cannot deliver” on the commitments it has made under the Global Methane Pledge without cutting livestock numbers.
The EU joined with other major governments to sign a commitment to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow last year.
But a new study conducted by CE Delft for the Changing Markets Foundation, concludes that the EU will struggle to deliver on both its methane targets and its broader climate goals without a drastic reduction in methane emissions from agriculture, which are primarily produced from livestock.
The study shows that EU policies in place at the beginning of the decade put the bloc on track to cut methane emissions by 13.4 per cent by 2030. Recent developments, particularly in the energy sector, could deliver further reductions of at least 3.4 per cent by 2030, but such progree would still leave the EU well off target.
It concludes that a 30 per cent cut in methane is difficult without action to cut livestock numbers, whereas emissions could be cut by up to 34 per cent by persuading just 10 per cent of EU consumers to switch to healthier diets with less meat and dairy and accelerating existing plans for tackling emissions from animal manure, food waste and energy.
Moreover, the report argues that a 45 per cent cut in methane emissions, which scientists say is needed to stop global temperatures from rising above 1.5C, cannot be achieved without cutting livestock numbers. In contrast, reductions of 38 to 47 per cent could be achieved if half of Europeans reduced their meat and dairy consumption, and additional measures – including action to tackle food loss and waste – were introduced alongside existing plans.
“Agriculture is the Achilles heel of Europe’s methane strategy,” said Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets. “Methane emissions from the EU farms are equivalent to the total emissions of 50 coal fired power stations yet the policies which could deliver significant cuts by encouraging a shift to healthier diets with less meat and dairy are completely absent from EU plans.”
The report comes just a day after the UK government controversially rejected proposals for it to introduce measures to encourage people to eat less meat and diary products as part of its new food strategy, instead promising to ramp up investment in innovative new feed additives that promise to curb methane emissions from cattle.
In related news, a new first-of-its-kind study has today set out how methane emissions from liquified natural gas (LNG) carriers could be lower than previously assumed.
The study, led by Queen Mary University of London, was developed to improve the understanding of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission profiles of LNG carriers with a view to supporting industry goals to curb methane emissions.
The findings are based on a 2021 research project in which a team of researchers from Queen Mary and SLR Consultants took direct measurements onboard the Cheniere-chartered GasLog Galveston for a roundtrip voyage from Cheniere’s Corps Christi liquefaction facility to a discharge port in Europe. It covered all sources of methane and CO2 emissions, including engine exhausts, venting, and fugitive emissions.
The study was funded by Enagas SA and the Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science, a research collaboration on methane science administered by research, development, and training body GTI Energy.
The study focused on which methods were most effective for directly measuring methane emissions from LNG carriers, for future studies or retrofitting on-board continuous emissions monitors.
“This study provides actionable recommendations to monitor and reduce LNG shipping emissions to further strengthen the climate benefits of LNG,” said Fiji George, Cheniere’s senior director for climate and sustainability. “Following the recommendations by the study, Cheniere is expanding our emissions monitoring on the majority of our chartered carriers to further put this science into action.”
Dr Paul Balcombe, principal investigator and lecturer in Chemical Engineering and Renewable Energy from Queen Mary, said the project would fill “a big data gap” when it comes to methane emissions from LNG shipping at a time when LNG imports are likely to grow substantially to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.
“This study is the first-of-a-kind to measure total methane emissions from engines aboard LNG carriers, including venting and fugitive emissions, but we need to do much more to get a representative sample of the approximately 600-strong LNG fleet, he said. “As well as these academic measurement studies, increased monitoring of emissions from engines, vents and fugitives would allow us to identify and implement effective reduction measures as hotspots are found.”
The study also recommends installation of methane emissions monitors on engine exhausts to monitor and report more accurate methane emissions estimates and to support methane mitigation operational practices.