Cutting emissions from the global waste sector, including the potent greenhouse gas methane, could play a part in combating climate change, says a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released on December 3rd 2010.
The waste management sector is contributing 3-5 per cent of global man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, equal to around the current emissions from international aviation and shipping, according to some estimates. But the report says the waste sector is in a strong position to move from being an emissions source to being a major emissions saver, in part by harvesting the methane from rubbish tips for fuel and electricity generation.
In doing so the sector can play a role in bridging the gap between where emissions need to be in 2020 and where emissions are heading under the various pledges associated with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. According to the recent Emissions Gap Report, presented in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun by UNEP and researchers from 25 modelling centres, a best-case scenario would see emissions fall to around 49 gigatonnes (Gt) of C02 equivalent, if the Copenhagen pledges are fully implemented.
"The waste sector is already acting to minimize the impacts of potentially potent greenhouse gases like methane, but this is often done on a country-by-country basis. The time is ripe to scale up and deliver a far more coordinated and global response, especially in respect to developing economies." said Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director and Under Secretary General of the UN."
Please find the entire UNEP report on waste and climate change at: www.unep.or.jp