Decadal decrease in Los Angeles methane emissions is much smaller than bottom-up estimates

Zhao Cheng Zeng, Thomas Pongetti, Sally Newman, Tomohiro Oda, Kevin Gurney, Paul I. Palmer, Yuk L. Yung, Stanley P. Sander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has a short atmospheric lifetime (~ 12 years), so that emissions reductions will have a rapid impact on climate forcing. In megacities such as Los Angeles (LA), natural gas (NG) leakage is the primary atmospheric methane source. The magnitudes and trends of fugitive NG emissions are largely unknown and need to be quantified to verify compliance with emission reduction targets. Here we use atmospheric remote sensing data to show that, in contrast to the observed global increase in methane emissions, LA area emissions decreased during 2011-2020 at a mean rate of (–1.57 ± 0.41) %/yr. However, the NG utility calculations indicate a much larger negative emissions trend of −5.8 %/yr. The large difference between top-down and bottom-up trends reflects the uncertainties in estimating the achieved emissions reductions. Actions taken in LA can be a blueprint for COP28 and future efforts to reduce methane emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5353
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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