Specific strategies are largely absent in US and EU’s Global Methane Pledge

In an announcement made at COP26, the US and EU jointly kicked off the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, and over 100 countries have joined the initiative;

Miles Weinstein, Energy Transition Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“In total, the participating countries represent almost 50% of oil and gas methane emissions worldwide. As the first global pact to address methane emissions, the Pledge does leave room for improvement on both the countries involved and the level of ambition. Conspicuously absent from the pledge is Russia, the world’s largest methane emitter from oil and gas activities. Other large emitters who have not signed on include Turkmenistan, China, Iran, and Egypt. The participant countries will, therefore, have to reduce emissions by a larger amount to achieve a 30% global reduction.

“This is a good point of departure, however, there is currently no coordinated path to achieving the pledge’s goal that has been announced. This is the reason why some type of country-level regulation will likely be a key component. If the goals of the pledge are reached, it will have a significant effect on reducing the effects of climate change, reducing warming by around 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050, according to the US Government.

“At the conference, US President Joe Biden announced that the US would be taking regulatory steps to reign in methane emissions. Methane emissions in the US’s oil and gas sector currently account for 35% of total greenhouse gas emissions on a CO2-equivalent basis, with significant portions from equipment leaks, natural gas-powered pneumatic devices, and other gas venting. Proposed EPA rules would eliminate 41 million tons of methane by 2035 by introducing performance standards that require states to reduce emissions, the first regulation of its kind. The regulation would also include restrictions on the use of pneumatic devices and venting emissions, as well as encouraging the use of advanced leak detection technologies. The Department of Transportation will also tackle the issue, by reducing potentially dangerous leaks in natural gas pipelines.

“The newly proposed EPA regulations should prove significantly more effective at reducing methane emissions than those introduced in 2016, as these new regulations would introduce a performance-based component to the emissions reduction strategy, which are generally more effective than the current prescriptive approach.”

“The required changes will incur upfront costs at a time when oil and gas producers are focused on optimizing expenditures. Some measures, though, could bring new profit due to the gas saved, particularly if natural gas prices continue their upward trajectory.

“On the international level, the United Nations Environment Programme recently created the International Methane Emissions Observatory, an independent methane watchdog. This organization will serve to forward the goals of the Global Methane Pledge, as reliable global reporting on methane emissions remains limited.”

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