Nairobi, Nov 1 (IANS) The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Commission have launched an observatory to reduce emission of methane gas into the atmosphere.
UNEP said in a statement issued on the eve of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow that the launch of International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) marked a significant milestone in efforts to green the planet.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said cutting down on methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry will help avert the worst impacts of climate change to livelihoods and vital ecosystems.
"Methane reductions must go hand in hand with actions to decarbonize the energy system to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsuis, as called for in the Paris Agreement," Andersen added.
According to UNEP, methane emission is responsible for about one quarter of the current global warming and when the gas is directly released into the atmosphere, it is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time horizon, Xinhua news agency reported.
Nevertheless, since methane's atmospheric lifespan is relatively short, robust measures to cut its emission would yield immediate results in terms of halting global warming and delivering air quality, says UNEP.
The launch of the observatory on Sunday will help improve accuracy and transparency in reporting the magnitude of its release into the atmosphere and the impact on global warming.
At the initial stages, the observatory will focus on methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector and later expand to cover agriculture and waste sectors, according to UNEP.
The observatory is expected to produce verified and accurate data on methane emissions in the fossil fuel sector to help inform mitigation efforts by governments and industry.
Hosted by UNEP, the International Methane Emissions Observatory will operate on a 100 million euros (about 115.6 million $) budget over five years, but it will not receive industry funding in order to maintain its impartiality.