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Published:October 2nd, 2007 06:49 EST
European Commission joins international Methane to Markets Partnership

European Commission joins international Methane to Markets Partnership

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will spend $2 million in nine countries to fund climate-change projects that enhance the capture and use of the powerful greenhouse gas methane.

The awards -- to projects in China, Russia, Argentina, Brazil, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, India, Nigeria and Ukraine -- are funded through the Methane to Markets Partnership, launched by the United States and 13 other countries in 2004.

The most recent member, the European Commission (EC), joined in September and brought the number of partners to 21. Together with more than 600 participating public and private organizations, the partners work on nearly 100 projects and activities around the world. (See related article.)

Paul Gunning, branch chief in the Climate Change Division at EPA, told USINFO, the EC membership “is a good development because it brings additional expertise into the partnership and additional commitment that will help us grow the partnership and continue to achieve reductions in greenhouse gases globally.”

Methane accounts for 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.  About 60 percent of methane emissions come from anthropogenic (people-generated) sources. It is 23 times better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled over 200 years, largely because of human activity.

About 25 percent of methane emissions and 43 percent of people-generated emissions come from four sources that Methane to Markets targets -- agriculture (animal-waste management), coal mining, landfills and oil and natural gas systems.

Gunning said the EC has expressed interest in partnership activities that deal with capturing methane from coal mines and from oil and natural gas systems. The EC will send a delegation to the Methane to Markets Exposition in Beijing October 30-November 1 to learn more about the partnership.

The EC is the first multicountry entity to join Methane to Markets. Four EC member countries (Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom) are already members. In the coal sector, the EC will be able to provide more than 50 years of European Union experience in targeting methane emissions from coal mines.

Methane not only is a greenhouse gas, it also is the main component of natural gas and a clean-burning energy source. The EPA-funded projects support a range of activities that help remove technical and other barriers to methane capture and use.

With the grants, EPA is supporting a suite of activities that include training, database development on potential project sites, feasibility studies, technology transfer and project expositions.

“One of the more important areas is direct project assistance,” Gunning said, “so for example in Mexico we’ll be working with the Border Environment Cooperation Commission to undertake two [gas recovery and use] feasibility studies in two cities in Mexico” -- Saltillo, Coahuila, and Hermosillo, Sonora.

“Our expectation is that the reports that are developed and issued from those studies will serve as a catalyst for private-sector investment to undertake a full-scale project,” Gunning said.

Of several projects being funded in India, one will help the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce coordinate activities for advancing Indian methane recovery and use projects in the agriculture and landfill sectors, and another will help the International Institute for Energy Conservation there initiate a nationwide system for recovering methane from manure at animal feeding operations.

In Nigeria, the Center for People and the Environment received a grant for a study of electricity generation from coal mine methane at a site to be determined, and the International Solid Waste Association will develop a Nigerian landfill inventory.

The Ecological Regional Centre in Russia will develop a landfill inventory for that nation, and the Russia Energy Efficiency Demonstration Zones Association will create a Clean Energy Technology Information Center in Moscow.

And in South Korea, the Korea District Heating Corporation will conduct feasibility studies of methane recovery from the Chuncheon, Gangneung, Jinju and Mokpo landfills.

“Virtually all the projects are leveraging other resources,” Gunning said, “so in all cases the institutions we are cooperating with will contribute funding for projects and in some cases have partnered with others, too, so the award amounts aren’t necessarily the full amount -- it’s a portion supported by the U.S. government.”

More information about the Methane to Markets Partnership and the Methane to Markets Partnership Expo is available on that organization’s Web site.

For more stories about U.S. efforts to combat climate change, see Climate Change and Clean Energy.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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