Four cities’ landfills emit as much methane as 2 million cars: study
Landfills are responsible for methane emissions equivalent to that of hundreds of thousands of cars, according to research from the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Technology.
Researchers analyzed satellite data to identify cities with above-average methane emissions, including Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Indian cities of Mumbai, Lahore and Delhi.
Zooming in determined landfills comprise large amounts of those emissions within the cities. For example, Buenos Aires’s landfill emits about 28 tons of methane an hour, about the same as 1.5 million cars, while the Indian landfills collectively emit 20 tons per hour, equivalent to up 500,000 cars.
“That is painful to watch because you can solve it with relatively little effort. You could for example separate and compost the organic waste, which would drastically reduce methane production. And even in the case of mixed waste, you can still collect or flare the methane produced,” lead author Bram Maasakkers said in a statement.
“Methane has a lifetime of only about ten years in the atmosphere, so if we act now, we will quickly see results in the form of less global warming. Of course, reducing methane emissions is not enough, we also need to limit CO2, but it does slow down near-term climate change.”
Methane emissions have been identified as a major contributing factor for climate change, as the gas has caused an estimated 0.5 degrees Celsius-worth of warming and, in its first 20 years, is about 80 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
It is also viewed as a relatively simple form of greenhouse gas emissions to reduce, however, because it also has a considerably shorter half-life in Earth’s atmosphere compared to other greenhouse gases.
A July study by environmental groups Ceres and the Clean Air Task Force indicated four companies are the primary source of U.S. methane emissions, more than 300,000 metric tons’ worth: Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Hilcorp and Occidental Petroleum.