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Environment and Energy

Methane emissions skyrocketing

Domestic livestock produce large amounts of methane.

California regulators are meeting this week to discuss plans to cut methane emissions 40 percent by 2030. The reduction is required under a recently passed state law and scientists now say global concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas are growing faster than at any other time in the past two decades. 

While methane is not as prevalent as carbon dioxide, it’s much more potent – trapping 28 times more heat. A new study shows methane emissions have jumped so dramatically that they’re now approaching a worst case scenario for greenhouse gas emissions. 

Study co-author Rob Jackson with Stanford University said California’s efforts to cut methane can make a difference globally. 

“California as a state is like a large country. I definitely think that cutting methane and carbon dioxide emissions in California makes a difference," Jackson said. "Methane’s tougher than carbon dioxide because you don’t have the same power plants and large industrial sources, it’s more distributed.”

Jackson said the bulk of methane comes from cattle operations, rice farming and landfills, but that it's unclear exactly why methane emissions are surging.