Minor gain in India's methane emission Study reveals

As part of the Paris agreement, the countries were advised to quantify the methane emission accurately and have a test on the reports, independently. Following the same, scientists from the University of Bristol has conducted a study, which quantifies the greenhouse gas emission in India.

It is one of the most important biggest independent studies of its kind. Revealing the results, scientists concluded that over last few years a little growth was observed in India’s methane emission. The team also claimed that their observations are accurate.

Lead author, Dr Anita Ganesan from the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, said, “Methane emissions in inventories are highly uncertain due to the complexity of the sources that emit it. It is not uncommon for countries to report methane emissions with an uncertainty that is as large as the emissions themselves. By using a variety of approaches, we can narrow that uncertainty.”

The credit of global warming is always directly given to greenhouse gases. And among them, the primary cause of heating the planet is considered as methane. Methane, being the second most powerful greenhouse gas, have a property to decay in the atmosphere quickly. And hence, advised for reducing the methane emission for controlling global warming.

Although India is showing a less hike in the time vs methane emission graph, countries including the US and China emits a more significant amount of greenhouse gas as compared to the previous year, with vast differences.

It is the first time when a study quantifying India’s methane emissions has been done for the country at this scale. Team lead, Gansen said that they used a wide range of combination of observations from the surface of the earth to an aircraft. Also, the satellite recordings ( measuring methane concentrations globally from space) were used to calculate results.

“As found through measurements of the atmosphere rather than through the cataloguing done by countries, we showed that emission levels are consistent with India’s reports to the UNFCCC and that between 2010-2015 methane emissions did not show any significant growth. This information is very valuable to know — both for providing this independent check but also for learning how to improve the accounting process,” Gansen added.

Though India is showing an almost constant rate of methane emission each year, the overall emission rate is higher than that of UK. However, it should also be noted that the former has a large number of population than the latter, and hence, the rates are quite smaller when we talk on per person basis.

Also, we can’t ignore that India is one of the world’s largest rice producers and growing rice is also a great reason for the emission of greenhouse gases. An enhancement has been observed in methane emission each year during June to September, which is also rice cultivation period.

The co-author of the study and leader of the global Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), Professor Ron Prinn of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that quantifying the methane emission should be made a mandatory standard for each country. He believes that this would be the only way to ensure transparency and accuracy in the reports submitted to the United Nations.

Prinn also revealed that after the successful study they are planning to measure the same in other tropical regions. Their primary focus will be on those areas where methane emissions are unclear.

The study was first published in Nature Communications.

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