7/29/2004

Government makes greenhouse gasses pledge as 'summer smog' hits England

The UK has today joined a US-led partnership that seeks to cut global methane gas emissions - on the day that the south east of England was warned to take precautions over the summer's first ozone smog.

The multi-national Methane to Markets Partnership, launched in Washington yesterday, aims to promote methane recovery and use as a clean energy source to foster sustainable economic growth.

The US is committing $53 million over five yeas to the partnership. Countries that have agreed to support the initiative are India, Australia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico and Italy.

The initiative will focus, through sector working groups, on schemes such as landfill gas to energy projects, methane recovery at underground coal mines and improvements in natural gas system operations. It aims to reduce net methane emissions by up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent by 2015.

Methane is one of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol and is second only in importance to C02 as a contributor to global warming.

Latest figures show that the UK has reduced its methane emissions by 43% over the last 12 years.

This is primarily due to cuts in emissions from the disposal of solid waste on land and from coal mines, Defra said.

Elsewhere, people in the south-east of England have been urged to take "sensible precautions" after the first summer smog of the year hit the region today.

Due to warm, sunny weather this week high ozone levels have been forecast for London, the south-east, and East Anglia.

Ground level ozone is formed when sunlight acts on nitrogen dioxide and other atmospheric substances close to the ground. The pollutants that cause ground level ozone come from a range of sources, including petrol and other fuels.

Ozone levels will decline tomorrow, but over the weekend and early next week expected high temperatures and light easterly winds may bring the risk of high pollution again.

Some people are more sensitive to ozone than others and may begin to notice an effect on their breathing. People with asthma are not necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their 'reliever' inhaler.

Precautions to reduce exposure to ozone include: avoiding exercise outdoors in the afternoon; and avoiding making unnecessary short car journeys wherever possible, by walking, cycling or making use of public transport instead.

(gmcg)

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