< Carbon dioxide - CO2 Nitrous oxide - N2O >

Associated topic: greenhouse effect, photochemical pollution

Emissions monitoring period: since 1990

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017


Sources of the pollutant

Methane (CH4) differs from other VOCs, in that it is mainly of biological origin.

The agricultural sector is the main source of methane emissions, especially from enteric fermentation and animal excrement.

Other sources of emissions include:

    • coal mining (coal mines have been gradually closing since the early 2000s, but CH4 is still being released from the coal that remains in the closed mines),
    • natural gas transport and distribution (programmes to replace the oldest portions of the distribution network),
    • landfill storage of non-hazardous waste,
    • bacteria in wetland zones such as rice paddies and marshes.


Effect of the pollutant

CH4 is colourless, odourless and non-toxic. However, in very high concentrations, it can cause asphyxia by starving the air of oxygen.

In environmental terms, CH4 is a greenhouse gas. It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 25, i.e. 25 times the GWP of CO2, the reference greenhouse gas (the GWP of CO2 = 1) (GWP values from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s fourth assessment report published in 2007). Among the greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, CH4 is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide (CO2).


Classification of the sub-sectors with the highest emission levels* (excluding Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry or LULUCF) in 2015

Classification Sub-sectors Share of the sub-sector in total national emissions in mainland France
1 Livestock including: 70% including:
Enteric fermentation 59%
Manure management 10%
2 Waste treatment 24%

*: one sector (of six altogether: energy transformation, manufacturing industry, residential/tertiary, agriculture/forestry, road transport and other transport) is broken down into sub-sectors.


Emissions and trends (including LULUCF)

  Including LULUCF Excluding LULUCF
Minimum observed: 2 332 kt in 2015 2 300 kt en 2015
Maximum observed: 2 856 kt in 1995 2 821 kt en 1995
Emissions in 2015: 2 332 kt 2 300 kt
Trends 2015/1990: -16.2% -16.3%
Trends 2015/maximum: -18.3% -18.5%
Trends 2015/minimum: 0% 0%

Measurement unit: kt (kilotonne)
Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Graph CH4 17v2

Graph Legende avec UTCATF

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Tab CH4 17

(*) Following UNFCCC definitions: emissions classified "except total" are not included, i.e. emissions from international waterway, maritime and air transport and emissions not from human sources.
(**) Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry
(e) preliminary estimate 



The majority of CH4 emissions from agriculture/forestry come from... (to read more, consult the SECTEN report online via your login and password)

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017