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COP 21: New solutions for mitigating methane emissions, an international Veolia Institute conference

Today the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) in Paris was the venue for an international conference looking at solutions for mitigating methane emissions. It was organized by the Veolia Institute in partnership with the French Development Agency and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Scientists, along with public and private operators in the agricultural, oil / gas and waste sectors, presented innovations that address this major global challenge. Veolia Chairman and CEO Antoine Frérot outlined the Group's positioning and contribution.



Methane is easier and cheaper to process than CO2

Methane is a greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential. Its apparent influence on climate is low because its lifetime (12 years) is much shorter than that of CO2. Evaluated over a century, methane's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is 14%. However, taken over 20 years, it reaches 40% - the same as CO2. Developing solutions to reduce methane emissions would therefore achieve quick results in the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in just a decade or two. In addition, methane is easier and cheaper to capture and recycle than CO2.


Circular economy solutions for recycling methane

In partnership with municipalities and industry, Veolia develops solutions for capturing and converting methane from waste into electricity or heat. For example in France, on the Artois site, Veolia turns waste into biogas and compost through the anaerobic digestion of organic matter; and in China, the Group recovers and recycles methane from the Laogang landfill to produce electricity.

Adopting a twofold principle - "whoever pollutes pays" and "whoever doesn’t pollute is helped."

Solutions that reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions have a cost which is not sufficiently taken into account in economic activities. To win the climate battle, we have to establish a robust and predictable carbon price in order to redirect investment towards low-carbon processes. The “polluter pays” principle has to be applied to greenhouse gases, following the approach successfully applied to wastewater and waste.


Antoine Frérot, Président-directeur général de Veolia

"The existing solutions for reducing carbon emissions will be not be deployed on a large enough scale unless there is a carbon price that deters polluters and incentivizes decontamination on the basis of a twofold principle of "polluter pays" and "those who decontaminate are helped," stated Antoine Frérot.

Many communities and businesses engaged in low-carbon strategies expect the international community to establish a stable, motivational framework that will safeguard their anti-carbon investments.

Antoine Frérot considers that "a realistic solution is to create groups of countries, based on efficient cooperative arrangements, with a view to eventually combining them. With ambitious financial and regulatory incentives, we can win the climate battle."


More about:

> The conference “Methane mitigation: science and innovative solutions:
> The Veolia Institute:
> Veolia’s position regarding methane:
> Veolia’s methane solutions:

Date of publication: 9 November 2015