December 6, 2022

Achieving 100% of Nations’ Commitments on Methane Emissions by 2030

100 Nations Pledge to Cut Methane Emissions by 30%: Global Climate Change Strategy Too Little, Too Late?

Whether we humans want to admit it or not, Global Climate Change (GCC) is here and happening right now. We’ve known about the effects of GCC for decades: higher global temperatures; rising sea levels; erratic weather patterns; extinction of species; acidification of oceans; shrinking glaciers and ice caps; more frequent and severe droughts, floods, wildfires, etc.

Now scientists are finding that GCC is also triggering another phenomenon: Methane Emissions Released From Defrosting Permafrost (MERRF). This is happening in the Arctic where permafrost has been frozen for thousands of years. As the permafrost melts due to higher temperatures, it releases billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere. The thawing has accelerated with each passing year as more and more global heat enters our biosphere. Once released into the air, methane traps 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide which further exacerbates climate change globally creating a feedback loop or climate “runaway” effect—a term coined by Dr James Hansen at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The good news is that a new study by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) says 100 countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, signed onto a plan to cut methane emissions from their oil and gas sectors by as much as 30 percent within 10 years. That means as much as 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents could be kept out of the Earth’s atmosphere over the next ten years—the equivalent of taking all cars in those nations off the road for three years according to SEI. The bad news is that we’re too little too late: we seem to have missed our window for averting GCC and runaway climate change . Even if we implement everything proposed by this agreement which has countries starting next year, temperatures will still rise more than 2 degrees Celsius globally. That’s the tipping point for climate change according to scientists who have studied the issue—although it’s not really an “agreement” at all since there is no enforcement mechanism and only voluntary participation by member countries. Here are some of the details of what has been proposed:

An estimated 800 million-1 billion tons (Gt) CO2e per year of methane emissions are avoidable in oil and gas sector. This methane is released when new wells are drilled, during hydraulic fracturing (also called ‘fracking’), when equipment malfunctions or accidents occur, and from oil and gas wells that are not currently regulated but should be under national programs. At least 100 Gt CO2e per year of these methane emissions are avoidable.

The production of oil and gas is projected to increase over the next several decades as many countries aim to meet growing energy demand, especially from developing economies. In addition, an estimated 10 percent of global gas production today occurs as a result of fracking, so future growth could be even higher if this technology becomes more widely adopted. Meeting international climate change goals will require substantial reductions in both national and international greenhouse gas emissions . This means that there needs to be concerted efforts beyond those currently taking place at the country level. The new agreement outlined above includes voluntary pledges by member countries who have agreed they will start reducing their methane leaks beginning next year (2015). However, no enforcement mechanism exists which means countries could simply wait until 2025 before they start reducing their methane output knowing full well that it’s too late to avert GCC.

By the way, this new study (mentioned above) was actually funded by Canada’s oil and gas industry which makes you wonder how unbiased is it? Here are some other additional details about what has been proposed:

The 100 Gt CO2e per year includes 30 percent of methane emissions from oil and gas, upstream of pipleines, which should be covered under national programs. The remainder consists of fugitive methane emissions at other stages in the supply chain which require further action by governments or private operators. For example, these include venting/flaring in refineries , on-site generators, equipment leaks during transportation, and distribution in final markets.

The costs of the actions to reduce methane emissions are low in most cases, but there are still barriers that have delayed action so far. The report concludes that these costs can be significantly reduced by appropriate regulation at national levels, including standards for equipment and processes at oil refineries. For example, it is possible to prevent almost 90 percent of gas venting from installations on land or offshore platforms through cost-effective technical fixes.

An economic analysis shows the benefits of reducing methane emissions exceed costs by a large margin (more than ten times). This is because when methan seeps out into the atmosphere, it becomes a greenhouse gas with approximately 30 times more impact on climate change than carbon dioxide over a 100 year time period. This means methane emissions also have a disproportionate impact on global warming relative to their mass.

The World Bank is currently preparing a methane strategy that will be released in early 2014. The report is being developed with support from the Global Environment Facility, which has provided core funding for strengthening the capacity of developing countries to address climate change issues .

Seems like this new agreement just might work since there are only voluntary commitments by member countries who have agreed they will start reducing their methane leaks beginning next year (2015). What could possibly go wrong?

By the way, here are some other additional details about what has been proposed:

Climate change goals will require substantial reductions in both national and international greenhouse gas emissions . This means that there needs to be concerted efforts beyond those currently taking place at the country level. The new agreement outlined above includes voluntary pledges by member countries who have agreed they will start reducing their methane leaks beginning next year (2015). However, no enforcement mechanism exists which means countries could simply wait until 2025 before they start reducing their methane output knowing full well that it’s too late to avert GCC.

Seems like this new agreement just might work since there are only voluntary commitments by member countries who have agreed they will start reducing their methane leaks beginning next year (2015). What could possibly go wrong?

An economic analysis shows the benefits of reducing methane emissions exceed costs by a large margin (more than ten times). This is because when methan seeps out into the atmosphere, it becomes a greenhouse gas with approximately 30 times more impact on climate change than carbon dioxide over a 100 year time period. This means methane emissions also have a disproportionate impact on global warming relative to their mass.