At the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP 26), 104 states have agreed to cut down the emissions of methane gas into the atmosphere by at least 30% by 2030. This gas is held up in the atmosphere much less than the carbon dioxide, but methane has the potential to heat up 80 times higher than the CO2 in a period of 20 years. As a result, even a modest decrease of methane emissions into the atmosphere is contributing to an evident lowering of the global warming.
The methane is emitted into the atmosphere during oil, gas, and coal production and transportation as well as in several agricultural sectors and the determination of the waste and landfills. According to the data from the last Two-Year report on climate change by the Ministry of Living Environment and Physical Planning, even 96,4% of the emitted greenhouse gasses in the country are carbon dioxide while the emissions of methane are 2,8% and 0,8% of nitric oxide.
The pressure on North Macedonia to reduce the methane emissions including nitric oxide seems will be the greatest in the agricultural sector and the waste, which are the biggest producers of methane. The Rural Coalition association said for Meta.mk that in the Agricultural sector, wood and other uses of land, the stockbreeding is emitting around 50% of the total emissions of greenhouse gasses.
“Close to 80% of the greenhouse emissions as a result of activities related to stockbreeding production is methane, from the etheric fermentation produced by the cattle” explained Rural Coalition.
There is a strategy, but also there is silence about any action
North Macedonia adopted the Long-term strategy for Climate Action this summer where measures were set about the Stockbreeding sector and the methane reduction that should be undertaken in the forthcoming period. Therefore, the following measures are planned: lowering methane emissions from the enteric fermentation in dairy cows by 3%, lowering the emissions of nitric oxide from waste management in dairy cows by 20%, lowering the emission of nitric oxide from waste management of pig farms by 13% and lowering the emissions of nitric oxide from waste in dairy cows by 20% at farms that have under 50 units of cattle.
Regarding a concrete direction and deadlines for the implementation of these measures, we sent several questions to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy a week ago, but Meta.mk didn’t receive a reply to any of the questions.
The Rural Coalition association explained that in the country there are over 5.000 stockbreeding farms and 2,315 registered pig farms. Despite the lowering of the number of cattle, the stockbreedng is contributing with 40% of the total value of the Macedonian agriculture.
They conclude that the farms don’t have a special care for an appropriate waste treatment.
“Mainly, it’s the small farmers who treat the waste in a very traditional manner. They don’t care about the greenhouse emissions as well as loss of matters from it. Mainly, it is treated as waste and its true useful value isn’t recognized,” said Rural Coalition.
Instead of electricity production, the methane is emitted into the atmosphere
North Macedonia should be working on new technology developmental practices, financial and regulatory stimulations for the farmers, reactions nad acting by civil organizations in order to increase the awareness and responsibility among farmers, but also to build energy capacities for the production of biogas.
According to the Register of renewable energy power plants by the Energy Agency, toward the end of October this year, there were only three biogas plants for the production of electricity, with an installed power of 7 MW and a plan for annual production of 58, 592 MW/h electricity.
The building of a new biogas powerplant in the Ovchepole village of Saramzalino that will be producing electricity for 2,750 households; Source: The Government of the RNM
The biogas powerplants would lower the methane and nitric oxide emissions produced by the agriculture since the waste would be used as a biogas source.
“Biogas can be used as a natural gas, and also high quality waste will be produced which is one of the longstanding gains from the correct treatment of the waste produced by stockbreeding farms. Unfortunatelly, no one want to try because of the big financial assets that have to be invested,” said the Rural Coalition.
What do the statistical results say?
The data provided by the Ministry of Environment show that the methane emission in North Macedonia have been dropping throughout the years, but the emissions of nitric oxides have reached a record high in 2019. During this period, North Macedonia has emitted 141, 16 tons of nitric oxides which is the highest quantity in the period from 1990 until today.
Contrary to this, the record emissions of 0,94 KT methane that were noticed during the start of the 90s from the previous century, in 2019, these quantities were lowered to 0,63 KT. Despite this, the emission of the methane into the atmosphere caused by the Waste sector has reached 52% of the total share with a possibility of further increase due to the growth of the waste quantities produced in the country. Also the low percentage of recycling, composting and burning of this waste contributes to this growth. In the country there is no other plant that would be using methane that is emitted from the landfills for the production of energy.
The Agriculture Sector, the forestry, and the use of natural resources still has its own part in the total share of the methane emission with 27%, but unlike the waste, the agricultural production in the past three decades isn’t marking a growth, but lowering the production scope. At the same time, the dairy cows and other cattle, including the pigs, have the main share in the methane emission in the agricultural sector which results from breeding these animals.