Six of the world’s top 15 methane emitters show support for Global Methane Pledge

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The European Union and the US have announced the Global Methane Pledge (GMP), under which signatories will commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. The initiative, which will be officially launched at the COP 26 conference in November, has received the backing of six of the world’s top 15 methane emitters.

The EU and US-led initiative was unveiled by US president joe Biden at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate on Friday. At the virtual event, Biden and European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyden urged nations to join the pledge ahead of the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow.

In addition to the EU and US, the GMP has received support from Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico and the UK.

“These countries include six of the top 15 methane emitters globally and together account for over one-fifth of global methane emissions and nearly half of the global economy,” the EU and US said in a joint statement.

Signatories joining the GMP will commit to collectively reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by the end of the current decade. If the goal is achieved, global warming would be reduced by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050, according to the EU and US.

The initiative will target methane emissions from the energy, agriculture and waste sectors, with the energy sector singled out as having the “greatest potential” in the short-term “for targeted mitigation”.

Countries joining the GMP will move towards “using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions", the EU and US said in a joint statement. 

Both the EU and US are aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, with Brussels and Washington expected to separately propose fresh legislation to tackle methane emissions before the year is out.

The EC will propose legislation to measure, report and verify methane emission, set limits on venting and flaring, and impose requirements to detect leaks, and repair them. 

Brussels is also working to expedite the uptake of mitigation tech and promote biomethane production through the use of agriculture waste. The EC is also backing the use of satellite images to monitor emissions.

As for the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce new regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The Department of Transportation's Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration is also looking to curb methane leakage from pipelines and related facilities.

Several oil and gas players in the US have set voluntary targets to reduce methane intensity, with some upstream players concluding agreements for third party certification of methane emissions.

The US was the world’s fourth largest gas flaring nation last year, with Iraq in second place and Mexico eighth on the list, according to data compiled by the World Bank.

Iraq has consistently flared ~17 Bcm since 2016, whilst flaring in the US dropping from ~17 Bcm in 2019 to 11.8 Bcm last year. Flaring levels in the US have however picked up this year as oil production has ramped up following a dip last year due to demand destruction caused by Covid-19.

As for Mexico, flaring levels increased by over ~1 Bcm in 2020 to ~5.7 Bcm, according to the World Bank.

Efforts are underway to address flaring levels in Iraq but this will take time. On Sunday, US oil services firm Baker Hughes signed an agreement with Iraq’s state-owned South Gas Company, under which Baker Hughes has agreed to capture 200 MMcf/d of flared gas from the Nassiriya and Gharaf oil fields.

The consist and rising flaring levels by some of the nations showing support for the GMP raises questions over how the target will be achieved. - ET

Contact the editor:

Eric Thorp
[email protected]

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