IEA warns on continuing high methane gas emissions from energy sector

IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol

IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol

10th March 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that emissions of methane remained “stubbornly high”.

It did so in its ‘Global Methane Tracker 2023’ report, published last month.

Methane is a major contributor to climate change, being responsible for some 30% of the global temperature increase recorded since the Industrial Revolution, the agency points out. Methane dissipates faster than carbon dioxide but has, during its limited lifespan, a much greater climate impact.

“Our new ‘Global Methane Tracker’ shows that some progress is being made but that emissions are still far too high and not falling fast enough – especially as methane cuts are among the cheapest options to limit near-term global warming,” highlights IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol. “There is just no excuse.”

The global energy industry was responsible for releasing 135-million tons of methane into the atmosphere last year, which amounted to some 40% of total human-caused methane emissions. This figure was only slightly below the record level observed in 2019. Last year satellites detected more than 500 methane super-emitting events from oil and gas operations and another 100 from coal mines. Currently, each year, some 260-billion cubic metres of methane were released into the atmosphere by oil and gas operations.

“The untamed release of methane in fossil fuel production is a problem that sometimes goes under the radar in public debate,” he pointed out. “Unfortunately, it’s not a new issue and emissions remain stubbornly high. Many companies saw hefty profits last year following a turbulent period for international oil and gas markets amid the global energy crisis. Fossil fuel producers need to step up and policymakers need to step in – and both must do so quickly.”

The oil and gas sectors could cut their methane emissions by 75% through the use of existing technologies, the IEA points out. Investment in such technologies would cost oil and gas companies less than 3% of the revenues they accrued last year (or, in numbers, it would cost them $100-billion altogether).

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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