Bad News For The World’s Most Popular Beer Festival

By Irina Slav

Beer Festival

Oktoberfest is no doubt one of the hallmarks in the European festive calendar. It is the largest folk festival in the world with 6 million annual visitors who, a study has now found, produce more methane during the fest than the entire city of Boston—a lot more.

Titled “Methane Emissions from the Munich Oktoberfest”, the study found that the Oktoberfest, where people consume an average of 7 million liters of beer, produces ten times the amount of methane that Boston does.

What’s interesting is that the researchers only sampled the air around the perimeter of the fest, not inside. The organizers of Oktoberfest refused them access on the grounds of safety concerns. So in reality, the methane output of those millions of people could be even higher. The amount they measured was 1.5 tons in total. This translates into 6.7 micrograms per square meter per second.

This might sound like a shocking amount of methane for people to produce on their own and indeed the researchers suggest that it is not only the result of bodily functions but of cooking and heating appliances used at the fest and powered by gas. In any case, the authors of the study believe such fests should be included in future methane inventories as sources of emissions. That should be good news for Oktoberfest fans. Nobody is taking their beer away, yet.

Methane has been garnering growing attention among emission trackers. It is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and while the energy industry is certainly a major contributor since methane is the main component of natural gas, it is by far not the only one.

Farming is also a big source of methane—from waste decomposition and cow digestion—and there are already projects that capture it and use it as fuel rather than wasting it.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com