Environment: Scientists denounce the role of landfills in methane emissions

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Selon les analyses du SRON, les décharges des Buenos Aires, Lahore, Bombay ou Delhi (photographiée ici en 2020) sont parmi les plus gros émetteurs de méthane.

Open dumps, still common in many countries, are accelerating global warming. This is the alarm raised by Dutch scientists in a study that has just been published in the journal Science Advance, and that these researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) believe that these spills are the source of most methane emissions in some countries. regions of the world. Although this gas is, after CO2, the greenhouse gas that has the greatest impact on global warming. Approximately a quarter of the latter is in fact attributable to methane Emissions twice as many as expected To carry out this study, SRON scientists used data collected by an observation satellite that, since 2017 and as apart from the Copernicus programme, it helps to locate the places on the planet where there are strong methane emissions thanks to a unique instrument called TROPOMI. And upon closer inspection, SRON researchers discovered that many sources of this greenhouse gas were located where there were open air dumps—not surprisingly, these sites are not found, most sometimes in highly developed countries where environmental standards are the strictest. The scientists located the dumps by mapping cities with high emissions, including Buenos Aires, Delhi, Lahore and Mumbai. According to the analyzes carried out by the researchers in these four cities, the emissions there are, on average, twice what they thought. The scientists have put, as here in Buenos Aires, in parallel images taken with TROPOMI and others, of a high Definition satellite to identify sources of methane SRON “When we enlarged the images obtained with a high-resolution satellite, we saw that there were landfills near these four cities,” explained Dutch Bram Maasakkers , one of the SRON researchers behind this study. radio. The same impact as 1.5 million cars In detail, they identified in particular that a landfill located near the capital of Argentina (which is among the 100 countries that have signed the UN global methane commitment), emits 28 tons of methane per hour. The climate impact of the emissions from this Buenos Aires landfill is, they claim, comparable to that of 1.5 million cars. And it weighs almost half of the atmospheric pollution emissions of this region that concentrates 40% of Argentina’s population As for the rest of the landfills identified, if their emissions are less important, they continue to be spectacular and are counted in tons. In India, those in Delhi and Mumbai respectively emit 3 and 10 tons of methane per hour. The one in Lahore, Pakistan, rejects six tons per hour. This is equivalent to the climate impact of between 130,000 and 500,000 cars Easy-to-implement solutions If these results are impressive, Dutch scientists remain relatively confident about the future. Because according to them, there are simple methods to solve part of the problem, although “methane is odorless and colorless, so it is difficult to see where it comes from”, explains Bram Maasakkers. “For example, you can sort and compost biodegradable waste so that it releases much less methane. And if you mix all the waste anyway, you can still capture the methane produced or even burn it.” Although, remember, the only fight against methane emissions will not be enough to stop global warming.
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