Recomendation on Waste and Landfills

Human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 per cent by 2030

Diana Butron

The amount of methane in the atmosphere is increasing at record rates. The 2021 Global Methane Assessment found that least-cost scenarios for limiting warming to 1.5°C require, amongst others, methane emissions reductions of about 30-35% from waste, relative to 2020 scenarios. (2)

The projected increase in the waste sector emissions between 2020 and 2030 is largest in Asia and the Middle East/Africa (~3-5 Mt per year). (2)

The second largest regional and sectoral emissions growth on a per capita basis is projected for waste in the former Soviet Union followed by agriculture in Latin America and the Middle East/Africa (all within 0.9-1.4 kg per person increase). (2)

Agriculture and Energy methane emissions are comparable in magnitude and have roughly twice the emissions of the Waste sector. Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) provide an internally consistent representation of the energy- land-economy system and are widely used in scientific and regulatory analyses, including the IPCC Sixth Assessment Reports. These models include all the major methane emitting sectors, though they tend to have much more detail for energy and agriculture than for the waste sector. (2)

Decarbonization actions, such as reduced deforestation or afforestation, have little impact on methane emissions whereas other methane reduction actions in the scenarios such as changes in livestock or waste management are not considered part of decarbonization. (2)

Baseline emissions scenarios assume implementation of existing policies and commitments but do not include additional mitigation action.(2)

"[...] The United States is committed to driving down methane emissions both at home and globally—through measures like research and development, standards to control fossil and landfill methane, [...]" said Rick Duke Senior Advisor to the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change."(1)

" [...] We must tackle emissions not only from the energy sector, but also from landfills, agriculture, and abandoned coal mines.[...]" said Jutta Paulus, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA. (1)

The report notes that most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste, and agriculture. In the waste sector, landfills and wastewater make up about 20 per cent of emissions. (2)

The assessment identifies measures that specifically target methane. By implementing these readily available solutions methane emissions can be reduced by 30 per cent by 2030. (2)

"We will not create a brighter future if we do not tackle the full triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste."  said Inger Andersen Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. (3)