DEAR EDITOR: Is biogenic methane the elephant in the room or not?

According to the EPA figures for 2022 for Irish agriculture, biogenic methane accounts for just over 17,000 kt CO2 eq of a total of 23,000 kt CO2 eq.

Significant scientific opinions state that in a stable or falling scenario, biogenic methane is a short lifecycle gas and is constantly recycled and eventually sequestered with the help of photosynthesis.

Ireland’s biogenic methane has actually increased by 9% since 1990 to 2023 but European figures for methane have decreased by 35% in the same time period. So, from a European standpoint, it’s a falling gas and, as described in the Oireachtas Joint Committee two years ago, a benign gas.

So why is such a gas included in our figures?

To be fair, the science is still evolving, and our policymakers and scientists had to make some effort to get the ball rolling on our efforts to halt and slow down climate change. But what is currently happening is that this benign gas is now only acting as padding in the argument.

It is diluting the figures of the fossil fuel industry to keep it low or single digits. The long-term warming effects of Irish agriculture, I personally would suggest, are significantly less than that of a major airline company.

In fairness, they do claim to have transported 160m people around for an hour or two during the year 2022 but Irish agriculture has provided enough calories to feed approximately 45m people for the entire year. It’s time for rational thinking on the importance of climate change, but we need to establish is the elephant actually in the room, or not.