University of São Paulo: Government strategy to reduce methane emissions is not effective, says expert

NoOn March 22, Decree No. 11,003 was published, establishing the Federal Incentive Strategy for the Sustainable Use of Biogas and Biomethane. This decree aims to contribute to the commitments assumed by the country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of the Glasgow Climate Pact and also the Global Methane Commitment. The government signaled the reduction, or at least the suspension of taxes, of specific lines of financing. In an interview with Jornal da USP in the 1st Edition , the professor at the USP School of Communications and Arts and also at the USP Institute of Energy and Environment, Pedro Luiz Côrtes, explains the government’s idea of ​​using methane instead of to fossil fuels, especially diesel.

Biomethane is generated from waste from urban and rural areas, such as in sewage treatment and in the agribusiness chain. Methane is the main component of natural gas, that is, by reducing this gas, the greenhouse gas is reduced. Although methane is more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), it stays in the atmosphere for less time.

Brazil is the fifth largest producer of methane, but it committed to minimizing the emission of this gas by signing the Global Compact at the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP26. The professor describes that the government’s intention is for methane to be used instead of diesel and fuel oil (both derived from petroleum). In this balance, it must be considered that the burning of methane generates CO2 for energy generation. Carbon dioxide is a less intensive greenhouse gas, but it remains in the atmosphere much longer and is not recaptured, according to Côrtes. For example, with the burning of biofuel, such as ethanol, CO2 is eliminated in the atmosphere. However, through the process of photosynthesis, in the planting of the next crop, this CO2 is recaptured. In ethanol, this cycle is practically closed,

The government intends for methane to be used instead of diesel, either to power tractors or trucks, thus creating independence from diesel. However, this strategy does not consider the recapture of the emitted CO2. “In practice, we are not reducing the generation of methane, we are transforming methane into CO2. It is not an effective policy in fact”, says the professor.

Other alternatives
“The ethanol alternative is relevant, as we have the infrastructure, distribution and consumer market. However, the government forgets about biofuels, although it is a great supporter of agribusiness. The only recent measure was the reduction of the ethanol tax to try to reduce the price at the pump, but there is no policy for the diffusion of ethanol throughout the country. There is no prospect of a solution”, explains Côrtes.

He says that, in practice, with the increase in CO2 emissions, there will be no recovery of this gas, because the government does not regulate carbon credits, which would be based mainly on forest recovery. “An effective program will be a methane market associated with forest recovery, as the trees capture CO2”, adds the professor.

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