Nord Stream gas leak sees methane spewing into atmosphere

Climate scientists have described the horrifying images of gas spewing out to the surface of the Baltic Sea as a “reckless release” of greenhouse gas emissions that, if intentional, “would be a crime” about environment.”

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | beautiful pictures

Unexplained gas leaks along two underwater pipelines connecting Russia to Germany caused Massive amount of methane gasa powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

Climate scientists have described Shocking images of gas spewing out to the surface of the Baltic Sea this week as a “careless release” of greenhouse gas emissions that, if intentional, “would be an environmental crime.”

Seismologists on Monday reported explosions in the vicinity of the unusual gas leak Nord Stream, located in international waters but inside the exclusive economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.

The Danish armed forces said the video shows the largest gas leak generating surface disturbances about 1 km (0.62 mi) in diameter, while the smallest caused a ring. about 200 meters round.

Climate scientists acknowledge that it is difficult to quantify the exact size of the emissions and say the leaks are a “small bubble in the ocean” compared to the vast amount of methane emissions. around the world every day.

However, environmental campaigners say the incident shows the risk of vandalism or accidents that make fossil infrastructure an “active ticking time bomb”.

What’s the truth?

Researchers at the German Environment Agency (UBA) estimate the climate impact of the leaks is equivalent to about 7.5 million tons of carbon.

The agency said a total of 300,000 tonnes of methane are expected to be released into the atmosphere from the leaks. Methane is significantly more harmful to the climate than carbon, the UBA researchers say, noting that over a 100-year period, one ton of methane causes the same warming of the atmosphere 25 tons of carbon.

BORNHOLM, DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 27: The Danish defense shows a gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from a Danish F-16 interceptor in Bornholm, Denmark on September 27, 2022.

Danish Defense / | Anadolu Agency | beautiful pictures

For context, the International Energy Agency estimate that the annual global emissions of methane are about 570 million tons.

This means that the estimated emissions from the Nord Stream gas leak are only a fraction of the total global emissions each year, even as campaigners see the incident as a reminder. about risks associated with fossil fuel infrastructure.

Paul Balcombe, emeritus lecturer in chemical engineering at Imperial College London, says that even if just one of the two Nord Stream pipes leaked could release all of its contents, it could would be twice as much methane as 2015 Aliso Canyon leak in Californialargest known methane release in US history.

Methane is 84 times stronger than carbon and does not last long in the atmosphere before it breaks down. This makes it a important goal to combat climate change quickly while reducing other greenhouse gas emissions.

The boiling water from the leak as we have seen in the image is symbolic of the huge amount of fossil fuels that the world is burning.

Jeffrey Kargel

Senior Scientist at Planetary Research Institute

The cause of the Nord Stream gas leak is still unknown. Many in Europe suspect sabotage, especially as the incident comes amid a bitter energy disagreement between Brussels and Moscow. Russia has denied claims it was behind the alleged “stupid” attack.

Danish Energy Agency speak Fourth, emissions from gas leaks correspond to about a third of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on initial estimates by the Danish government, the worst-case scenario would be 778 million cubic meters of standard gas or 14.6 million tons of carbon equivalent emissions. In comparison, Denmark’s emissions in 2020 are about 45 million tons of carbon equivalent.

Grant Allen, professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Manchester, said it was estimated that up to 177 million cubic meters of gas could still be left in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline alone.

Allen said this is equivalent to the amount of gas that 124,000 homes in the UK use in a year. He added: “This is not a small amount of gas and represents a reckless release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

ICIS: Nord Stream gas leak and Gazprom sanction warning 'more than a coincidence'

Jeffrey Kargel, senior scientist at the Planetary Research Institute in Tucson, Arizona, described the gas leak at the Nord Stream pipeline as a “real act” and “an environmental crime if it was intentional.” .”

“The rumbling water from the leak as we saw in the image is symbolic of the huge amount of fossil fuels that the world is burning,” said Kargel.

He added: “The global climate is changing dramatically, with enormous impacts on the increase in extreme climate every year, decade after decade. level that most adult people on Earth know.” “We can literally feel it on our skin.”

Europe must ’tilt completely’ towards renewable energy

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time of the leak, but both routes remained pressurized: Nord Stream 1 stopped pumping gas to Europe “indefinitely” earlier this month, with Moscow’s operator letting that international sanctions against Russia have prevented it from performing important maintenance work.

Meanwhile, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never officially opened due to Germany’s refusal to certify commercial activities due to Russia’s gratuitous invasion of Ukraine.

Dave Reay, executive director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, said “the most direct effect of these gas leaks on the climate is the strong greenhouse gas methane – a key component of the atmosphere. natural gases – they’re adding to the atmosphere.”

He added: “That said, this is a tiny bubble in the ocean compared to the huge amount of so-called ‘defective methane’ that is released every day around the world as a result of things like cracking, mining, mining. coal and oil extraction.”

Environmental campaigners say the risk of vandalism or accidents makes fossil infrastructure a “positive ticking time bomb”.

Lisi Niesner | Reuters

Silvia Pastorelli, EU energy and climate campaigner at the environmental organization Greenpeace, told CNBC via email: “The risk of vandalism or accidents makes fossil fuel infrastructure a ticking time bomb. positive, but even on a clear day, oil and gas pipelines and depots leak methane continuously.

“Behind all these cubic meters and megatons are real dangers to humans,” says Pastorelli.

“Gas pipelines from Norway or Algeria will not get us out of this mess, instead Europe must turn completely towards renewable energy and real energy savings to preserve it. protect the vulnerable.”

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