Clamping down on the methane menace

Methane plumes several kilometres (miles) long are now being detected by the NASA space agency as greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high – Copyright AFP STR

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas identified as the second-largest contributor to global warming, with a warming potential over 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide during the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. 

The atmospheric concentration of methane is increasing faster now than at any time since the 1980s. Methane emissions from human activity are responsible for at least 25 percent of today’s warming. The oil and gas sector stands out as a significant contributor, with methane emissions about 70 percent higher than official data shows and expected to increase.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas; upon escaping into the atmosphere, such greenhouse gases act as a blanket insulating the Earth, absorbing energy and slowing the rate at which heat leaves the planet. In the case of methane, this energy is absorbed remarkably well, leading to a significant climate problem.

To address levels of methane released into the environment, strong action is required and there are signs of the required actions being undertaken at the supranational level in the form of the European Union. However, to succeed equivalent actions need to be undertaken by big business.

Flavia Sollazzo, Senior Director, EU Energy Transition at Environmental Defence Fund Europe (EDF Europe) outlines in a statement provided to Digital Journal: “The EU’s new regulations to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas sector send a very clear message in the lead up to COP28 – that climate responsibility doesn’t stop at European borders.”

Sollazzo’s organisation is one of the world’s leading international non-profit organizations. The Environmental Defence Fund creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. The EDF links science, economics, law, and private-sector partnerships.

Taking the issue of trans-border concerns further, Sollazzo explains: “As the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas, the EU is strategically leveraging its economic influence to drive global reductions in methane emissions.”

Consequently, action is required on the part of business. Sollazzo recommends: “This has to be the moment for the fossil fuel industry to redirect its resources and expertise towards detecting and fixing leaks across production and supply chains worldwide – actions that can pay for themselves by preventing waste and inefficiency.”

Time is of the essence, Sollazzo explains, noting: “We have to act faster before the window of opportunity closes. If we don’t, we risk missing critical climate goals under the Paris Agreement and the EU climate targets. Cutting-edge methane tracking technologies – like MethaneSAT – will be a game-changer in measuring progress on curbing methane leaks across supply chains – increasing accountability for methane emitters both within Europe and around the world.”

Clamping down on the methane menace
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