Frozen for thousands of years in Arctic permafrost, billions of tons of carbon and methane are slowly being released into the atmosphere due to rising temperatures. A new study shows that while the release is slow, continued thawing of this permafrost will significantly impact Earth’s climate.
On November 5, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change issued a press release announcing that the federal government has finalized equivalency agreements for methane regulations from the oil and gas industry with Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, for the next five years. “These equivalency agreements represent a flexible approach that enables provinces and territories to design methane regulations that best suit their respective jurisdictions while meeting equivalent emissions-reduction outcomes to the federal regulations.” These equivalency agreements have been in the works for months, during which time Environmental Defense Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, and other groups have lobbied for regulations to be tightened and for the reporting procedures to be improved.
High levels of methane- a potent heat trapping gas- have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.
Up to now, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from industries have relied mainly on paper-based calculations of what’s pouring out of tailpipes and smokestacks, based on the amount of energy consumed by people and businesses. But as satellite technology improves, researchers are starting to stress test the data – and the early results show leaky oil and gas industry infrastructure is responsible for far more of the methane in the atmosphere than previously thought. This will put pressure on energy companies – already targeted by climate activists and investors for their contribution to carbon dioxide emissions – to find and plug methane leaks.