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Stanford-led research reveals potential of an overlooked climate change solution

Cows in a feedlot.
Sep 26 2021
Faculty, Fellow, Research, Stanford

Earlier this month, President Biden urged other countries to join the U.S. and European Union in a commitment to slashing methane emissions. Two new Stanford-led studies could help pave the way by laying out a blueprint for coordinating research on methane removal technologies, and modeling how the approach could have an outsized effect on reducing future peak temperatures.

The analyses, published Sept. 27 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, reveal that removing about three years-worth of human-caused emissions of the potent greenhouse gas would reduce global surface temperatures by approximately 0.21 degrees Celsius while reducing ozone levels enough to prevent roughly 50,000 premature deaths annually. The findings open the door to direct comparisons with carbon dioxide removal – an approach that has received significantly more research and investment – and could help shape national and international climate policy in the future.

“The time is ripe to invest in methane removal technologies,” said Rob Jackson, lead author on the new research agenda paper and senior author on the modeling study. Jackson is the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor of Energy and Environment in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

Study co-author, Alexander Heyer, is a 2018 EDGE Fellow and 2020 SGF Fellow.

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