Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a Global Warming Potential over 80 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 20 years. Anthropogenic methane is responsible for at least quarter of today’s global warming. If the world is to achieve a 1.5°C (or even a 2°C) global temperature target and to slow the rate of warming to avoid the worst impacts over the next few decades, dramatic reductions in methane emissions must be achieved by 2030.
Methane emissions result from natural sources like wetlands and manmade sources such as the agricultural, fossil fuel, and waste sectors. The fossil fuel industry is responsible for one-third of anthropogenic methane emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global methane emissions from the oil and gas industry reached almost 82 million metric tonnes in 2019. Increasing attention to methane emissions in the oil and gas industry risks undermining the case for increasing the role of gas as a lower-carbon transition fuel.
However, the oil and gas industry is also the sector with the greatest potential for emissions reduction. The IEA estimates that it is technically possible to reduce these by roughly 75% - and by over 40% just by implementing approaches that have no net costs, taking into account the value of the gas saved. Minimizing methane emissions from upstream oil and gas production was identified as one of five key global greenhouse gas mitigation opportunities, noting that low-cost reductions in this area could account for nearly 15% (over 0.5 Gt CO2-eq) of the total greenhouse gas reductions needed by 2020 to keep the world on a 2-degree path.
Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production would slow the rate of global warming in the short term in a cost-effective and secure manner as efforts continue to decarbonize the energy system.”