DEPARTMENT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (302/04) issued by the Government News Network on 29 July 2004

To help the fight against global warming, the UK today joined a US-led partnership that seeks to cut global methane gas emissions.

The Methane to Markets Partnership, launched in Washington yesterday (Wed), aims to promote methane recovery and use as a clean energy source to foster sustainable economic growth.

It will focus, through sector working groups, on schemes such as landfill gas to energy projects, methane recovery at underground coal mines and improvements in natural gas system operations. It aims to reduce net methane emissions by up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent by 2015.

Environment Minister Elliot Morley welcomed the US proposal, saying it was a valuable initiative in the global campaign to reduce greenhouse gases, while stressing that tackling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remained the single largest challenge in combating climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions in the UK in 2002 were 12 times higher than methane emissions.

“Methane is one of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol and is second only in importance to CO2 as a contributor to global warming.

We are happy to join others in an international partnership, comparable to the international partnerships on hydrogen and carbon sequestration, which both involve the US and the UK. We will continue to use every opportunity to cut greenhouse gases and help with UK and international emissions reduction targets.”

Mr Morley said the UK had an excellent record on lowering methane emissions. Latest figures show that the UK has reduced its methane emissions by 43 per cent over the last 12 years. This is primarily due to cuts in emissions from the disposal of solid waste on land and from coal mines.

“We look forward to contributing our experience to the partnership, as well as learning from it.

Cooperation in multilateral partnerships is a good way to help countries find effective ways of reducing emissions. Such partnerships are a valuable complement to international action through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the main forum for tackling climate change globally.”

Notes to Editors

1. The US is committing 53m over five yeas to the Methane to Markets Partnership. Countries that have agreed to support the initiative are India, Australia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico and Italy.

2. Emissions of methane decreased by 9 mega tonnes of carbon equivalent (43 per cent) between 1990 and 2002 (Source: UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2002). There were falls in all sources – landfill, underground mines, agriculture, oil production, post-mining activity, leakage from gas transmission/distribution system, oil exploration, road transportation and residential).

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