Catalog of Research Funding Needs to Advance Methane Removal
09 January 2023
Methane removal has been proposed as a complement to anthropogenic methane emissions reductions in order to:
● address methane sources which are difficult to prevent or avoid;
● deal with legacy emissions;
● remediate increasing emissions from wetlands and water bodies induced by anthropogenic global warming; and
● prepare against the possibility of a future methane burst (where rapidly thawing permafrost and submarine methane hydrates cause catastrophic methane releases).
Methane emissions reductions and methane removal are complementary. Note that while the technologies described here focus largely on atmospheric methane removal, some might also be used for mitigation purposes, for instance, targeting point sources of methane such as mine ventilation systems.1 Other methane removal methods are designed to enhance natural methane sinks in the troposphere or at ground level.
Some current and proposed research projects for methane removal technologies are listed in the table (please find attached file). The table is followed by narrative descriptions and funding needs for these and other proposed projects. Projects listed are illustrative examples only; they are not meant to be definitive or exhaustive. To compare the cost of removing methane vs. CO2, the term “CO2 equivalent” (CO2e) is used and means the number of metric tons of CO2 with the same global warming potential as a metric ton of methane.
All climate intervention technologies require competent cooperation and governance to succeed globally, therefore the final section of this catalog outlines steps that U.S. agencies and their counterparts in other countries can take toward the measuring, monitoring, and governance of technologies designed to remove methane and other climate forcing agents.
Measuring, Monitoring and Governance Components
20. Comprehensive assessment of atmospheric methane sources, sinks and solutions
The EPA Administrator, in cooperation with the Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture, and State, could commission a report from the National Academy of Sciences providing the following analysis:
(1) an assessment of the size and changes occurring in emission and sinks of methane globally;
(2) an analysis of the likely impact of atmospheric methane on climate change and other problems caused by atmospheric methane;
(3) a review of each major methane emission source and sink to determine what options are available to affect their impact on atmospheric methane levels;
(4) a review of all possible, and all currently practicable, technologies, programs, policy and regulatory changes that could help reduce atmospheric methane levels, whether by abatement (emissions reduction) or removal, and for each proposed technology or policy change, consideration of their technological readiness, likelihood of success, barriers hindering implementation, cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis, and likely overall impact on atmospheric methane levels;
(5) draft national and global plans for atmospheric methane reduction and removal, with goals and recommendations, discussion of options for investment in new technologies, possible regulatory and land management changes, and other means lowering barriers to implementation.
21. Enhance global governance of GHG removal methods
The Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce and the Administrator of the EPA could assist the Secretary of State, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Trade Representative, in consultation with the Special Envoy for Climate Change, and the agencies participating in the affected U.S. delegations, in implementing the Methane Pledge and pursuing a Methane Agreement or Declaration, as well as other relevant resolutions and agreements. With grants for nongovernmental agencies with appropriate expertise, such collaborations could support the proper assessment, deployment, and domestic and international governance of greenhouse gas removal.
This would provide assessment of the effects of reducing atmospheric concentrations of methane and other climate forcing agents to preindustrial levels and help ensure sufficient, safe and proper use of greenhouse gas removal technologies, including those designed to reduce or actively remove emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, black soot, and other climate forcing agents. A Declaration or Agreement building on the Global Methane Pledge could be implemented in support of (though not necessarily under) existing agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and i ts protocols and accords.
Total: $5,000,000 per year per agency
22. Small grants program
The Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and the Interior and the Administrator of the EPA could each devote $500,000 for a small grants program to seed promising in novations in the methane removal field for FY2023 and the following years as authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Total: $500,000 per year per agency
Read more in the attached document below. [Updated January 12, 2023]