Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

A regulatory agency cautions that companies producing fossil fuels need to fix any leaks of methane in order to achieve their goals related to climate change.
Environment World News

A regulatory agency cautions that companies producing fossil fuels need to fix any leaks of methane in order to achieve their goals related to climate change.

The world’s energy watchdog has cautioned that fossil fuel companies will need to pay billions in order to decrease methane emissions from their operations. Failure to do so could make it incredibly challenging to achieve global climate goals.

The United States has become the primary producer of methane emissions from oil and gas extraction due to the significant growth of its oil and gas industry. On the other hand, China holds the top spot for methane emissions from coal mining. Additionally, Russia remains a significant contributor due to inefficient management of its fossil fuel operations.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), data released on Wednesday reveal that leaks from coalmines and oil and gas wells are the primary contributors to methane, a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for around 30% of the observed temperature rise.

Last year, approximately 170 billion cubic meters of methane was released from fossil fuel activities globally, surpassing Qatar’s total production of natural gas.

However, numerous leaks could be prevented if more countries followed the example of Norway, where effective methods have been implemented to reduce methane emissions in oil and gas drilling.

At present, the operations with the lowest efficiency are approximately 100 times more inefficient than those with the highest efficiency. Turkmenistan and Venezuela are the top culprits in this regard. In Kazakhstan, there was an instance of a well blowout last year that resulted in the release of significant amounts of methane for over 200 days.

According to a survey by the IEA released on Wednesday, a total of $170 billion would be required to decrease global methane emissions by 75%. Out of this amount, $100 billion is needed for the oil and gas sector and $70 billion for the coal industry. The report states that this investment would greatly increase the possibility of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

According to the IEA, fossil fuel companies would need to spend around 5% of their profits from last year to clean up their operations.

According to Paul Bledsoe, who previously advised on climate issues for the Clinton White House and is currently a member of American University in Washington, it is important for the US to guarantee that all producers are adhering to the highest standards.

“The United States, currently the leading producer of oil and gas globally, is being urged to take action in reducing its methane emissions in order to meet near-zero levels by the end of the decade. This call for action comes as the Biden administration imposes stricter regulations on methane emissions, with the threat of consumer backlash looming for the industry. In contrast, Russia maintains the highest rate of methane leakage, further motivating the European Union and other entities to boycott the gas that directly funds Vladimir Putin’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Additionally, China must take a critical step in closing numerous coalmines, as methane, a potent greenhouse gas, combines with CO2 to produce one of the most polluting fossil fuels in the world.”

Although over 200 countries committed to addressing methane emissions, the IEA report shows that levels of the gas remain close to the peak reached in 2019. The Global Methane Tracker by the energy advisory also uncovered that actual emissions were significantly greater than what countries and companies had reported.

The writers of the IEA report stated that there were positive factors to consider. They mentioned that monitoring methane emissions has become more advanced with the use of satellites, and plans are in place for an even more effective system with the introduction of a dedicated methane satellite by the US non-governmental organization Environmental Defense Fund.

According to Christophe McGlade, director of the energy supply division at the IEA, stopping leaks once they are identified can be a relatively quick and simple process. He expressed hope that the UN will utilize the satellite data for this purpose.

Tim Gould, a writer who worked on the IEA report, mentioned that the upcoming Cop29 UN summit on climate change, set to occur this November in Azerbaijan, might present a chance for both governments and businesses to take more decisive steps. “Since Cop29 will be held in a prominent oil and gas producing country, it could help keep the attention on methane,” he explained. “We also hope to see a concentration on methane in countries’ NDCs [their commitments under the Paris agreement to reduce emissions].”

Durwood Zaelke, the leader of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, urged governments to listen to the recommendations of the IEA. According to Zaelke, reducing methane emissions is crucial in addressing short-term global warming and preventing irreversible and catastrophic consequences of climate change. He likens methane to a blowtorch that is exacerbating the Earth’s rising temperatures, but by reducing it, we can significantly decrease the rate of warming.

Source: theguardian.com