According to the annual report of the European Union and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, carbon dioxide emissions in the world remain the same for the third consecutive year, but the concentrations of more potent greenhouse gases are creeping up.
During the period from 2015 to 2016, the US, Russia, China and Japan reduced their CO2 emissions, while EU emissions remained at the same level, and in India they continued to grow. However, methane and nitrous oxide emissions are increasing all over the world.
For a century, methane molecules hold up to 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Methane enters the atmosphere from agriculture, mining of coal and gas and landfills. Nitrous oxide, known as a gassing gas, holds 300 times more heat than CO2. It is excreted from soil fertilizers and in the process of chemical production.
Statistics on agriculture are not updated as often as energy and industry figures, so the report does not include full data on these gases. But the preliminary assessment showed a trend of growth in their concentration in the US, China, Japan, India, Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Italy and Spain.
The situation with emissions of nitrous oxide can seriously worsen as a result of global warming. According to a study published in July, the Arctic permafrost contains about 67 billion tons of gas, and since this layer of ice thaws, up to a quarter of the region can become their source.
Other studies indicate an increase in methane concentration over the past decade. So, according to a study published in December in Environmental Research Letters, the annual increase is 10 or more parts per billion for the period from 2014 to 2015, compared to 0.5 ppb on average in the early 2000s.
“The stability observed over the last three years with regard to carbon dioxide emissions is sharply different from the recent rapid leap in the level of methane. The results for methane are alarming and require additional efforts, “said co-author Robert Jackson, professor of earth science at Stanford University.
The study does not provide a complete picture of the total methane emissions. In a document published last month, it was found that emissions in agriculture could be much higher than previously reported, due to the use of obsolete data on livestock numbers.
According to last year’s study by Harvard University, the US can be responsible for 60% of anthropogenic global methane emissions into the atmosphere since 2002. Researchers said that there were too few data sources to identify specific sources, but the growth in the level of powerful greenhouse gases corresponded to an increase in the production of shale oil and gas throughout the country, which was accompanied by leaks of large amounts of methane from wells and pipelines.
In June, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt supported the decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. He insisted that the country had nothing to apologize for, and suggested that the US help other countries reduce CO2 production by using natural gas production technology, namely, hydraulic fracturing or chartering. Pruitt, like President Trump, said he did not consider people the main cause of climate change.