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2022 Methane emissions only slightly lower than the record highs of 2019

The annual update from the International Energy Agency’s Global Methane Tracker found that 135m tonnes of methane was released into the atmosphere over the course of last year. This represents  a rise on the 2021 figure and is close to that of 2019, the worst year on record.

red pipe with red ropes

It is estimated that 30% of the rise in global temperature since the industrial revolution is due to methane, a gas that while dissipating faster than CO2, is a much more powerful greenhouse gas while it is active.

While agriculture is the greatest source of methane, the energy industry is still responsible for 40% of those attributable to human activity.

The blame can be fairly shared between the coal, oil and natural gas industries, which are each responsible for around 40m tonnes of emissions.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: ‘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. There is just no excuse. The Nord Stream pipeline explosion last year released a huge amount of methane into the atmosphere. But normal oil and gas operations around the world release the same amount of methane as the Nord Stream explosion every single day.’

This year’s Tracker Report suggests some solutions that seems almost too simple to believe. For example, they estimate that 40% of emissions from oil and gas operations could be prevented at no net cost because the cost of doing so would be less than the market value of the additional gas that is captured.

Dr Birol said: ‘The untamed release of methane in fossil fuel production is a problem that sometimes goes under the radar in public debate, 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 policy makers need to step in – and both must do so quickly.’

Around 150 countries have now joined the Global Methane Pledge which aims to reduce methane emissions from human activity by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

 

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