imgMethaneIcon Methane & Other Gases

Decrease or increase greenhouse gas emissions from methane, nitrous oxide, and the F-gases. Methane is released from sources like cows, agriculture, natural gas drilling, and waste. Nitrous oxide comes from fertilizers. The f-gases, includes HFCs, PFCs, and others that are used in industry and consumer goods like air conditioners.


  • Decreased meat consumption.

  • Modified agricultural practices such as increasing digestion of manure and decreasing fertilizer use.

  • Decreased methane leakage from oil and gas industries.

  • Increased capturing of gases emitted from landfills.

  • Research and development into substitutions for F-gases in industrial processes.

Big Message

  • Reducing methane, nitrous oxide, and the F-gases is high leverage, although many approaches to reducing these emissions need more research and support to scale up.

Key Dynamics

  • Methane, N2O, and F-gas emissions comprise 30% of current greenhouse gas emissions and are key in reducing to address climate change.

Potential Co-Benefits of Decreasing Methane & Other Gases

  • Plant-based diets have been shown to be healthier for individuals and have less impact on ecosystems.

  • Sustainable and plant-based agriculture produces more food with fewer resources, which increases food security.

  • Reducing methane leakage from natural gas systems can save money.

  • Less nitrogen-rich fertilizer run off can reduce water pollution, decrease eutrophication, and increase marine health.

Equity Considerations

  • Many cultural values are attached to certain foods, meaning change to more plant-based diets could require a large societal shift.

  • Policies implemented without care may threaten food security for certain individuals and communities. For example, rice paddies, a large methane contributor, are a main dietary staple for many countries.

  • Local economies and employment can be threatened in communities which currently rely on industrial, large-scale farming practices as their main livelihood.

Slider Settings

The variable being changed is the percent reduction or increase of total maximum action. The model limits how much these emissions can be reduced–so 100% max reduction is not a 100% total emissions reduction–since some are considered unavoidable, particularly those from agriculture, landfills, and wastewater.

highly reduced

moderately reduced

status quo


Percent reduction or increase of maximum action

-100% to -50%

-50% to -2%

-2% to 0%

0% to +10%

Model Structure

Each greenhouse gas is modeled separately within En-ROADS, which enables the impact of each gas on global temperature to be handled without using global warming potential (GWP) and CO2 equivalency conversions. Greenhouse gases other than CO2 that are reflected in graphs with the units CO2e do use GWP100 to enable comparison and reporting of all greenhouse gases together. This means that the short-lived, but high impact, nature of greenhouse gases like methane is captured.

Case Studies

Carrboro, NC, USA: Participation in a community gardening program in Carrboro, NC showed improvements in childhood obesity levels and resulted in families with children in the program eating one-third more fruits and vegetables every day. 1

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Castro, D. C., Samuels, M., & Harman, A. E. (2013). Growing Healthy Kids. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(3).