IEMA's Head of Policy Ben Goodwin shares his experience of co-chairing a webinar focused on 'Methane emissions revealed from space'.

I had the pleasure of co-chairing a webinar this morning that brought together a range of experts to discuss the technologies that are being used to study methane emissions from space.

The webinar, which was hosted by Space 4 Climate and supported by IEMA, included sessions on the role of satellites in detecting and measuring methane concentrations, plus discussion on the potential of using the resulting data to help inform decision-making.

Included among the speakers was Onoriode Esegbue from BEIS who walked attendees through the Government’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which sets out sectoral measurements of methane in the UK. The inventory has been developed using largely land-based measurement techniques.

Waste management and agriculture remain the areas whereby methane emissions are highest domestically. This continues to be driven by factors such as the difficulties the UK has experienced in relation to dealing with landfill and our lifestyle choices around meat consumption.

Yet as we know, methane emissions and particularly their impacts do not respect geographical boundaries making them a big deal globally. Methane actually accounts for nearly 20% of all GHG emissions worldwide.

Using satellite technology to better understand the global methane footprint is key to helping guide the action that is needed to cut emissions.

But how does this work?

Another speaker at this morning’s event, Hartmut Boesch from the University of Leicester, explained how a wide range of satellites are being used to measure reflected sunlight, which in turn provides information on methane concentrations in the atmosphere.

The technologies have developed at such a pace that despite the presence of aerosols and clouds they can still provide accurate information on the concentrations of atmospheric methane.

The final part of the event looked at how the resulting data can be leveraged into policy discussions to help deliver progress on reducing global methane levels.

At COP26 world leaders agreed to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 based on 2020 levels. Shining a light on where and what sort of action is required in satellite technologies will increase the likelihood of this target being achieved. However, the need for effective narrative building to connect science with policymaking is integral to this.

More information on Space 4 Climate can be found here.

IEMA has published extensively on greenhouse gas emissions management and assessment:

IEMA - Pathways to Net Zero: Using the IEMA GHG Management Hierarchy November 2020

IEMA - Launch of the Updated EIA Guidance on Assessing GHG Emissions

Photo of Ben goodwin
Ben Goodwin

Director of Policy and Public Affairs, IEMA, IEMA

Ben is Director of Policy and Public Affairs at IEMA. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy, practice and public affairs activities across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.


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