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an offshore rig emitting methane

Converting Harmful Methane Emissions Into Useful Energy

While the climate change debate has largely centered around the role of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas emissions, methane emissions are an important and increasingly recognized contributor to global climate change. Nicholas Burger and Noreen Clancy of the RAND Corporation focus on a U.S. government program to reduce methane emissions in a new commentary. Though methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it has 20 times the global warming potential. But methane can be captured and used, not only reducing methane emissions, but offering a cost-effective source of energy.

The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is a voluntary program that promotes near-term methane recovery through partnerships between developed and developing countries, with participation from the private sector, development banks, and NGO's. GMI seeks to raise global awareness about the challenges and solutions of methane recovery, to reduce barriers to these efforts, and to promote knowledge sharing among participants. The U.S. Department of State has provided 52 per cent of American investment in the GMI, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also contributes substantial resources and administers the program.

A new RAND study examined the State Department's sizeable contribution to GMI, and found evidence that State played a significant role in the GMI's contributions to emissions reductions. Aside from its financial contribution, State has provided nonfinancial programmatic contributions, particularly initial support behind the launch of GMA and foreign policy expertise in the drafting of multilateral agreements.

The full report can be viewed at, and the commentary is available at

Please let me know if you have any questions, would like to speak to the report's authors, or would like a hard copy of the report.


Matthew Dicker
Legislative Analyst
RAND Corporation
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