Sweden’s rivers hide many fibre banks: large accumulations of wood chips left over from the pulp industry. Researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University have discovered that they are leaking methane gas and calculated that Swedish fibre banks probably account for 7% of Sweden’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Aftonbladet asked Johan Kuylenstierna, Research Leader at SEI York, to comment on the importance of methane as a greenhouse gas. Johan noted that the role of methane gas in climate change has not generally been given as much emphasis as carbon dioxide, but that is now changing. He commented:
“It is difficult to quickly reduce the carbon dioxide content [of the atmosphere] because carbon dioxide lasts for about 100 years in the atmosphere and it takes time before the emission reductions change those levels. When you reduce the emissions of methane, the content decreases very quickly because methane only lasts 12 years in the atmosphere.”
If we manage to stop methane emissions completely now, climate warming from methane gas would be gone in just a few decades.
However, Johan emphasized that tackling methane is only part of the solution:
“Carbon dioxide is still very important, has caused the most climate change so far and must be dealt with as soon as possible. But if we are to have any chance of meeting the climate goals, it is not either/or. We have to invest in everything.”
Johan Kuylenstierna is an author of the Global Methane Assessment published in May 2021, which highlights the critical role of cutting methane emissions in slowing the rate of global warming. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.