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Climate-damaging methane emissions from opencast lignite mining in Germany

 Climate-damaging methane emissions from opencast lignite mining in Germany are “massively underestimated,” and could be 184 times higher than reported, Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said on Wednesday.

A joint study by DUH and Ember Climate showed that instead of 1,390 tons of methane emissions reported in 2022, which accounts for 1 percent of the European Union’s (EU) methane emissions, the figure could be as high as 256,000 tons annually.

Official emissions reporting is based on outdated figures from the 1980s, according to the study, which analyzed satellite data from opencast lignite mines in the country. In 2022, German lignite production was responsible for 44 percent of the EU’s total production of the resource.

“To stay within the 1.5-degree limit, global methane emissions must be massively reduced,” said Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, managing director of DUH, calling on the national government to present a “cross-sectoral reduction strategy as soon as possible.”

The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Tuesday that the global average temperature has been 1.58 degrees Celsius higher than in the pre-industrial era for the past 12 months, exceeding targets set out by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

Last year, the 28th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in December reached an agreement to gradually phase out fossil fuels. However, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned that the planet is very close to the 1.5-degree limit.

As Europe’s largest economy, Germany plays a key role in fighting climate change. It is seeking to achieve climate neutrality by 2045, five years ahead of the European Union target. By 2030, the country aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent, compared to 1990 levels.

According to the latest projections from the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Germany is now on track to achieve its 2030 targets. Last year, the country reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 10.1 percent year-on-year to around 673 million tons, the UBA said in March.

At the initiative of the EU and the United States, numerous countries agreed at the Climate Conference in 2021 (COP26) on the Global Methane Pledge (GMP), which aims to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.

Also on Wednesday, the European Parliament is set to vote on new rules to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector. ■

Famagusta Gazette