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Problem & Solutions

Australia's methane problem

Methane is dangerous gas that forms on coal seams. It's either captured and sold, or polluted into the air during coal, oil and gas mining. Methane is a super-potent greenhouse gas, trapping over 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in its first 20 years, and is responsible for around half of global warming to date. When it comes to global warming, carbon dioxide is a slow cooker and methane is a red hot BBQ. 

Australia has the second highest share of fugitive greenhouse gas emissions in the world at 10.4% of total national emissions, falling only behind Russia. Coal mines are to blame for 23% of Australia’s total methane emissions, a close second to agriculture. 

Over and over again expert scientific analysis shows that Australia's coal & gas methane is 60-90% higher than what we officially report to the UN. This is because coal & gas companies a allowed to use "back of the envelope" methods to literally guess their methane emissions. 

But there is hope

Pushing governments and mining companies to cut coal & gas and reach Methane Zero is the best strategy to keeping 1.5˚C alive. 

The UN says that the world’s methane emissions could be reduced by 45% within the decade. This could prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 million tonnes of crop losses. It would also stop nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045, helping to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C and putting the planet on track to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

We already have the solutions that can get Australia’s coal and gas mining to Methane Zero

We can use new satellites to pinpoint methane pollution from space. Companies can limit and reduce pollution. They can also fix every methane leak and clean up their mess after mining.

Australia must do better. We can get Australia’s mining pollution to Methane Zero. We can do this by stopping new coal and gas, cutting back mining pollution, and closing super-polluting mines.

Experts tell us that reaching Methane Zero is the single biggest and fastest way to reduce global warming to safe levels. Cutting methane means we can protect places we love. It also keeps our communities safe from worsening floods, fires, and extreme heat.

The Australian Government signed the Global Methane Pledge. Now, they need to make good on their promise with a National Methane Action Plan. The plan must bring coal and gas mining to Methane Zero.

Communities are becoming increasingly aware of the huge methane impacts but the government is not responding fast enough. Global momentum on methane action is growing. We can push governments and companies to act. Methane is a huge threat and a huge opportunity for climate hope.

References and resources

Climate and Clean Air Coalition: