A total of 1,256 methane super-emitter events occurred between January 2019 and June 2023, according to the new data. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh lead the list of nations with the most large leaks, followed by Argentina, Uzbekistan and Spain.

Decomposing waste is responsible for about 20% of human-caused methane emissions.

Prof Euan Nisbet, a methane expert at Royal Holloway University of London, said: “Big landfills make a great deal of methane but it doesn’t cost much to bulldoze soil over a stinking, burning landfill. It’s not rocket science.”

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    Analysis of global satellite data from around the world shows the populous nations of south Asia are a hotspot for these super-emitter events, as well as Argentina and Spain, developed countries where proper waste management should prevent leaks.

    Methane, also called natural gas, traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over 20 years, making it a critical target for climate action.

    Dr Richa Singh, of the Centre for Science and Environment in the city, said that while methane leaks from the global oil and gas industry were getting significant attention, the waste sector also required “urgent intervention”.

    Mohammad Rizwan, 36, who owns a shop next to the Ghazipur landfill, the site of India’s biggest methane leak in the last five years, said the nearby residents were the “unluckiest people in Delhi”.

    However, a huge amount of rubbish – about 15,000 tonnes a day – is dumped at the site, and satellite data in a 2022 study suggested the uncovered new waste piles may be the source of the emissions.

    “The fact that the detected emissions come from a small uncovered area is an indication of the effectiveness of the [methane] capture and treatment system on the rest of the module surface,” said a spokesperson for the company.


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