EU, UN-led pact to report methane emissions

Actions to cut methane emissions can yield a near-term reduction in the rate of warming, complementing efforts to decarbonize the world’s energy and transport systems while also delivering air quality benefits.

Nairobi: In a move that will help tackle one of the biggest and most solvable contributors to the climate crisis, major players in the oil and gas industry have agreed to report methane emissions with a new, much higher level of transparency.

Methane released directly into the atmosphere is a highly potent greenhouse gas, with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Actions to cut methane emissions can yield a near-term reduction in the rate of warming, complementing efforts to decarbonize the world’s energy and transport systems while also delivering air quality benefits.

The Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) is a Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) initiative launched on Monday. It’s led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Commission (EC), and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Already 62 companies with assets on five continents representing 30 per cent of the world’s oil and gas production have joined the partnership. The new OGMP2.0 framework is the new gold standard reporting framework that will improve the reporting accuracy and transparency of anthropogenic methane emissions in the oil and gas sector.

At the core of the effort is a comprehensive measurement-based methane-reporting framework that will make it easier for officials, investors and the public to accurately track and compare performance across companies in ways that have not been possible to this point.

As stipulated in the EU methane strategy, the European Commission is planning to elaborate a legislative proposal on compulsory measurement, reporting, and verification for all energy-related methane emissions, building on the OGMP 2.0 framework.

Crucially, the OGMP 2.0 includes not only a company’s own operations, but also the many joint ventures responsible for a substantial share of their production.

The OGMP 2.0 framework applies to the full oil and gas value chain, not only upstream production, but also midstream transportation and downstream processing and refining — areas with substantial emissions potential that are often left out of reporting today.

The goal is to enable the oil and gas industry to realize deep reductions in methane emissions over the next decade in a way that is transparent to civil society and governments.

In order to support the realization of global climate targets, OGMP 2.0 aims to deliver a 45 per cent reduction in the industry’s methane emissions by 2025, and a 60-75 per cent reduction by 2030.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), roughly three-quarters of methane emissions could be reduced with the technology that exists today, and close to half at zero net cost.

Reducing fossil methane emissions by 75 per cent can prevent up to six gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually — almost 10 per cent of the planet’s 2019 greenhouse gas emissions, including land-use change.

UNEP and the European Commission are also finalizing plans to set up an independent International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO).

IMEO will aggregate and analyse multiple methane emissions data streams, including data reported by OGMP member companies, to accelerate reductions in methane emissions globally.

By assisting industry and governments globally in addressing uncertainty related to reported emissions, the IMEO will improve the consistency and credibility of methane emissions data and accelerate mitigation actions.

“To win the race to net zero emissions, we need everyone on board. We need ambitious action from the oil and gas industry. UNEP is committed to supporting efforts that reduce methane emissions, and we recognize the leadership of companies that have joined such an ambitious methane reporting framework. We look forward to seeing actions that turn commitments into actual emissions reduction,” said UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen.

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