Reduce methane emissions from fossil fuels

An international push is needed to reduce methane emissions from fossil fuel operations, particularly oil and gas, where leaks can often be easily prevented at little or no cost, according to a report from the International Agency for Energy (IEA).

Company initiatives play an important role in fighting emissions, especially when leading companies act to spread best practices across the industry. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Climate action cannot focus on carbon dioxide alone. Governments and energy companies have great opportunities to reduce methane emissions, which provides the most impactful way to limit climate change in the short term.

Methane is responsible for around 30% of the global increase in temperatures to date. Rapid action to address methane emissions from oil, gas and coal The operations would have immediate impacts due to the powerful effect of methane on global warming and the broad scope of profitable actions, according to the report Reducing Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuel Operations: Paths to a 75% Reduction by 2030.

Fossil fuel operations globally emitted close to 120 million tonnes of methane in 2020, nearly a third of all methane emissions from human activity. Many of these emissions are simply leaks along the production and supply chain that operators are unable to capture or avoid. There are cost-effective ways to limit these emissions, especially in the oil and gas sector.

the IEA estimates that more than 70% of current emissions of oil and gas The operations are technically preventable and around 45% could normally be avoided at no net cost because the value of the captured gas is higher than the cost of the abatement measure. This share would be much higher at this time, given the all-time highs in natural gas prices.

The report provides crucial information and guidance for governments, regulators and the energy industry in the run-up to the Climate Change Conference COP26 and beyond. Based on the emission estimates and options to address them in the IEA Methane Tracker and the Roadmap and Regulatory Toolkit, the report identifies and quantifies a number of actions, including regulatory and regulatory actions, voluntary industry initiatives, and improvements in emissions measurement and reporting.

“At a time when we are constantly reminded of the damaging effects of climate change, it is inexcusable that massive amounts of methane continue to be allowed to simply seep into the air from fossil fuel operations,” he said. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA.

The new Global Methane Commitment calls for a reduction of at least 30% in global methane emissions from human activity by 2030. If the world achieves the 75% reduction in methane from fossil fuel operations as outlined in the new IEA report, this would reduce total man-made methane emissions by around 25% and thus go a long way towards achieving the goal of the Global Methane Commitment.

Several jurisdictions around the world have already employed well-established policy tools, including leak detection and repair requirements, technology standards, and the prohibition of non-emergency burning and venting. Some countries have included methane along with other greenhouse gases in their national net zero commitments, while others have made more specific announcements.

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