The energy sector - including oil, natural gas, coal and bioenergy - is one of the largest sources of methane emissions, but efforts to reduce these have often been held back by a lack of reliable data.
May 14th, 2021
The special event of the Italian G20 on Energy and Climate, organized by the Presidency in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, focused on the issue of methane emissions, providing an overview of the problem and of possible solutions, with a particular focus on, but not limited to, emissions from fossil fuels.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, responsible for at least a quarter of today’s global warming; it is the second largest cause of climate change, after CO2. Until recently, however, near-term methane reductions have been largely overlooked as a powerful mechanism to slow the rate of global warming.
The energy sector – including oil, natural gas, coal and bioenergy – is one of the largest sources of methane emissions, but efforts to reduce these have often been held back by a lack of reliable data. The scale and intensity of estimated emissions ranges widely by country; nonetheless, structural reductions will be essential to reach our common mitigation goals.
Timing is important: reducing methane emissions quickly is one of the most powerful actions that can be taken to reduce near-term warming and help limit dangerous climate-altering effects, while simultaneously delivering important associated health and economic benefits.
The fossil fuel sector has the greatest potential for cost-effective methane mitigation: according to reliable studies, up to 70% of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector could be reduced, most of which can be achieved at negative or low net cost.
In this context, the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) is a data-driven, action-focused mechanism, which aims to revolutionize the global approach to methane emissions. More specifically, IMEO will provide a comprehensive understanding of where and how much methane is being emitted, and will work with governments and companies around the world to use this data to motivate effective mitigation actions. IMEO will act as the interface through which countries can access and interpret this information to build government capacity to address methane emissions using data-driven policy solutions.
In this perspective, the G20 is in a prime position to target methane emissions from fossil fuels, bringing together key stakeholders from both producer and consumer countries to achieve ambitious emissions reductions: therefore, the workshop concluded by calling on G20
countries to endorse the IMEO as a vehicle to provide verified data on methane emissions globally; to encourage the participation of oil and gas companies to the OGMP (Oil and Gas Methane Partnership) framework; to increase the use of methane mitigation opportunities in the NDCs.