METHANE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     30th September 2023        
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Context: In a recent development, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that methane has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) ranging from 28 to 36 when assessing its impact over a 100-year period.

  • This finding is crucial in understanding the greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector, which encompass carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and various other contributors to climate change.

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

  • About: A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits infrared radiation. 
  • They absorb infrared energy (heat energy) emitted from the earth’s surface and reradiates it back to the earth’s surface. 
  • Most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere: Water vapour, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbons, Hydrofluorocarbons.
  • Other GHGs: Carbon monoxide, fluorinated gases, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), black carbon (soot), and brown carbon.

o Carbon monoxide (CO) is not considered a direct greenhouse gas, mostly because it does not absorb terrestrial thermal IR energy strongly enough. 

  • Global Initiative to fight GHGs: Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, SDG (2030) etc.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

  • Establishment: It was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Objective: The objective of the IPCC is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.
  • IPCC reports: They are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.
  • Members: 195 members.


  • About: It is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas.
  • Methane is also a greenhouse gas (GHG), so its presence in the atmosphere affects the earth’s temperature and climate system.
  • Properties: Colourless, odourless and highly flammable gas.
  • China, the United States, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico are estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all anthropogenic methane emissions.
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