Methane Emissions Controls: An Invaluable Learning Experience


Within the Mosaic courses, we focus mainly on the UNFCCC and, thus, almost exclusively on CO2 emissions.  However, in ECON-222: Environmental Economics, a group of us from the Mosaic had the opportunity to research and learn about another greenhouse gas, one that is far more potent and dangerous to climate change: methane.  CH4 is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted through anthropocentric sources, has an atmospheric lifetime of twelve years, and has a one hundred-year global warming potential twenty-one times that of carbon dioxide.  So, while it only accounts for fourteen percent of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, it is still a critical factor in the climate change realm; unregulated at its source, and methane emissions could undermine the work that the UNFCCC facilitates on carbon-dioxide emissions.

We focused on three main sources of methane emissions (agricultural sources, the oil and natural gas industry, and landfills) and employed various tools of economic analysis that we had learned previously in the course to critically analyze various policy options and make a recommendation as to which we believe is the most effective and cost-efficient.  My main focus was on the oil and natural gas industry, which accounts 37 percent of global methane emissions.  Natural gas is seen as a transition fuel away from fossil fuels for many economies that is both cleaner and readily available; while it may be cleaner in terms of carbon-intensity, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better for the environment, as between 80 to 90 percent of each cubic feet of natural gas is comprised of methane.  Thus, most of the emissions in the industry come from natural gas processes, which is fraught with inefficiencies and opportunities for emissions to escape into the atmosphere.  Thus, many of the major policy suggestions I evaluated in this research project focused on increasing efficiency along the natural gas supply chain.  These policies further fell under two umbrella categories under increasing efficiency, one being the retrofitting and upgrading of existing equipment along the supply chain to mitigate emissions escaping in the first place, and the second being the capture and sale of those emissions that do escape.  Policies under both umbrella categories are currently being employed, and have proven to be cost-effective in both achieving emissions reductions and increasing revenues for the industry as a whole

This project offered an exceptional opportunity to complement what I’ve learned in the Mosaic classes and to delve into the intricacies of my chosen field of study (economics) and how it relates to climate change generally.


For more information on methane emissions specifically in the US, visit the EPA website.

For more information on the methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry and for an in-depth look at proposed emissions control policies, read through the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Leaking Profits: The U.S. Oil and Gas Industry can Reduce Pollution, Conserve Resources, and Make Money by Preventing Methane Waste report from 2012.

Proud of my Green State


Anyone who has interacted with me enough to discover where I am from, knows I am proud to be from the Golden State. I love the landscapes, the access to the outdoors, the food, the people.. in short I love my state. Part of this love comes from the role California has as a leader of environmental sustainability.  It is currently the nations top producer of solar energy (in 2013, 18% of our power came from solar), and is rated number one in clean technology (Bennett). None of this is to say that don’t have annoyance and anger towards the egregious environmental short comings of my state (don’t get me started on fracking, or almond production) but AB 32 reminds me of the environmental promise in California.

The the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) is one of the most comprehensive actions to mitigate climate change while living up to its promises of co-benefits. It takes a multitrack approach with, “Reductions in GHG emissions [that] will come from virtually all sectors of the economy and will be accomplished from a combination of policies, planning, direct regulations, market approaches, incentives and voluntary efforts” (“Assembly Bill 32 Overview.”). It will improve energy efficiency, expand renewable energy, improve public transportation, reduce emissions, waste and increase technology all while saving consumers money, and improving community health (“Assembly Bill 32 Overview.” and Alvord). According to the Union of Conserned Scientists, “A recent study found that California’s low carbon fuel standard and cap-and-trade programs will save $8.3 billion in health costs between now and 2025 by reducing asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and other health impacts associated with poor air quality” (Alvord). AB 32’s ultimate aim is to return California’s net emissions by to 1990 levels by 2020 and the more ambitious aim of reducing emission 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (“Assembly Bill 32 Overview.”). 

Three cheers for my home state!


A picture of me and my sister backpacking in the Lost Coast in Northern California
A picture of me and my sister backpacking in the Lost Coast in Northern California


Work Cited:

Alvord, Adrienne. “Big Oil, Climate Change, and California’s AB32.” The Equation: Union of Concerned Scientists . N.p., 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <>.

“Assembly Bill 32 Overview.” California Environmental Protection Agency., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <

Bennett, Lisa. “Rays of Hope in California.”The Huffington Post., 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <>.


REEEPing the Benefits of Transnational Networks

REEEP Structure
REEEP Structure

The Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) is an international non-profit based in Vienna, Austria that’s aim is to “accelerate the global market for sustainable energy with a primary focus on developing countries and emerging markets.”[1] Launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development by the United Kingdom and several other partners, REEEP has developed into a wide reaching NGO that has implemented over 180 projects in 58 countries. Membership is comprised of national and sub-national governments, international organizations, businesses, and other NGOs. REEEP operates as a public-private governance structure off of donor money and serves their mission by providing funding, information, and connector for clean energy solutions. A critique of transnational governance structures and groups such as REEEP is the overall effectiveness. An evaluation of REEEP’s place in global climate change governance and clean energy markets finds that REEEP is indeed effective.

Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal
Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal

REEEP’s existence is intrinsically linked to climate change, but also goes beyond just the need for energy that is not derived from carbon-intensive sources. REEEP’s support of clean energy markets is focused on three problem areas: (1) the water-energy nexus, (2) sustainable urban transport, (3) energy efficiency and buildings. Through these three areas they are able to provide services to not only increase the amount of clean energy employed in operations, but also to change the market system in the area in question. One service in particular is the portfolio system. REEEP looks for ventures in the clean energy market that they think will significantly alter the market system. They then invest donor funding into the venture. Their claim is that they “measure ROI not in money, but in markets changed.”[2] A claim not backed up by readily available evidence, but implies that REEEP is looking beyond monetary growth and interested in changing the way the market functions.

REEEP is heavily project based and to go into even a wide breadth of them would be a very large analysis. Though one big project known as Reegle is a shining example of the work REEEP does. Reegle is an informational portal for those interested in clean energy. It receives over 220,000 visitors per month and provides information from nation’s energy profile to a clean energy and climate change glossary. They also claim that many of the visitors are from developing nations. 220,000 visitors in a month is a lot. The information gathered in this portal, just for the energy profile, would take hours of work to gather otherwise. For this reason solely Reegle is a great tool. Another successful project was one in which REEEP funded a roadmap for increased renewable energy in China’s Changjiang River Basin (CJR). This project provided over €160,000 in funding to researchers that prepared a report on global and then implemented two technologies in CJR. The project provided hot water for apartment buildings in the region, as well as another example of successful implementation of a clean energy technology.

The question then is, is REEEP effective? Given the breadth of successful and ongoing projects, as well as continued funding I would judge to say yes. Financially speaking REEEP is in good standing and operating within their prerogatives, as judged by a recent Auditor’s Report.[3] An outside assessment of REEEP was conducted during a National Research Council workshop on “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships.” The report, titled Assessing the Role and Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global Sustainability Governance found that REEEP is “indeed addressing the goals that it declares.” One criticism was that REEEP focuses attention on the most important emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency markets and neglects the poorer nations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. The final judgment though is that given REEEP’s current scale and ability to implement these large projects, it could have “considerable impact in the area of sustainable energy policy.” Given this assessment by those within the NRC and the successful projects that have been implemented thus far, as well as the market impact that can be attributed to REEEP, it is safe to say that this group can be judged as effective.



[1] REEEP Mission,

[2] REEEP Portfolios,

[3] Auditor’s Report 2012-2013, REEEP

Works Cited

“Annual Report 2012/13.” REEEP.


“Auditor’s Report 2013.” PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Pattberg, Philipp, Kacper Szulecki, Sander Chan, and Aysem Mert. “Abstract: Assessing the Role and

Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global

Sustainability Governance.” Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships (2009):



“Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership .” REEEP.