Zbynek Burival  / Unsplash

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden has already made progress on his climate agenda, including taking executive action to limit methane pollution from new and existing oil and gas operations. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, is the second-largest contributor to climate change and has serious effects on the climate and people’s health. SEI research leader at the University of York and expert on air pollution and climate change, Dr Johan C.I Kuylenstierna reacts to the decision:

“Biden’s decision is necessary and indicates that he is serious about his climate agenda. Prior to the pandemic, the emissions of methane were growing rapidly. To achieve the Paris agreement, countries need to change this trajectory, with rapid reductions in emissions. Most studies suggest that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are underestimated, hence President Biden’s decision is vital, especially coming from the country that is now the world’s largest oil and gas producer.”

”Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and is also a short-lived climate pollutant. It has an atmospheric lifetime of roughly 12 years. One advantage of reducing methane is that many of the reduction options available, especially in the oil and gas industry, are cost-effective. You save money by preventing methane release and using it for heating and electricity instead. The benefits of reducing methane emissions will be realized relatively quickly and will have multiple societal benefits for the climate, crop yields and health. This is because methane is an important precursor to the formation of ozone, which reduces crop and forest yields, and damages the respiratory health of people.”