Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. While the United States currently emits a much higher volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) through energy production and use, as well as through commercial activity and transportation, those emissions have been decreasing thanks to smarter energy use and efficiencies, reduction of coal-fired power generation due to natural gas prices, increases in renewable energy supplies at dramatically lower cost, and increased vehicle fuel efficiency.
But at the same time, emissions of methane have been steadily increasing; nearly a third of known emissions are from the oil and gas industry. Between 2014 and 2015, industry-reported emissions of methane increased 28% (compared to a 12% increase in production levels).
Over a short term (roughly two decades), methane is 84 times more potent than CO2 as a heat trapping gas. With scientific consensus focused on the need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the opportunity to address methane becomes readily apparent. Even over its entire duration in the atmosphere, methane remains about 25 times more potent than CO2.