The role of methane in future climate strategies: mitigation potentials and climate impacts

This study examines model-specific assumptions and projections of methane (CH4) emissions in deep mitigation scenarios generated by integrated assessment models (IAMs). For this, scenarios of nine models are compared in terms of sectoral and regional CH4 emission reduction strategies, as well as resulting climate impacts. The models’ projected reduction potentials are compared to sector and technology-specific reduction potentials found in literature. Significant cost-effective and non-climate policy related reductions are projected in the reference case (10–36% compared to a “frozen emission factor” scenario in 2100).

Still, compared to 2010, CH4 emissions are expected to rise steadily by 9–72% (up to 412 to 654 Mt CH4/year). Ambitious CO2 reduction measures could by themselves lead to a reduction of CH4 emissions due to a reduction of fossil fuels (22–48% compared to the reference case in 2100). However, direct CH4 mitigation is crucial and more effective in bringing down CH4 (50–74% compared to the reference case).

Given the limited reduction potential, agriculture CH4 emissions are projected to constitute an increasingly larger share of total anthropogenic CH4 emissions in mitigation scenarios. Enteric fermentation in ruminants is in that respect by far the largest mitigation bottleneck later in the century with a projected 40–78% of total remaining CH4 emissions in 2100 in a strong (2 °C) climate policy case.

This article is part of a Special Issue reporting results from the "Energy Modeling Forum (EMF)‐30 Study on Short‐Lived Climate Forcers (SLCF) and Air Quality


PBL Authors
Mathijs Harmsen Detlef van Vuuren David Gernaat
Other authors
Benjamin Leon Bodirsky
Tatsuya Hanaoka
Shinichiro Fujimori
Steven J. Smith
Oliver Fricko
Jean Chateau
Olivier Durand-Lasserve
Laurent Drouet
Jérôme Hilaire
Kimon Keramidas
Gunnar Luderer
Maria Cecilia
P. Moura
Fuminori Sano
Kenichi Wada


Publication title
The role of methane in future climate strategies: mitigation potentials and climate impacts
Publication date
24 May 2019
Publication type
Publication language
Climatic Change
Product number