Sixty-two major oil and gas companies on Monday (23 November) agreed to a new framework for monitoring, reporting and reducing methane emissions as part of the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0.
The new tracking and disclosure system has been hailed as the “gold standard” for the industry, introducing a voluntary comprehensive, measurement-based methane reporting framework that will make it easier to accurately track and compare the performance of companies.
“This will be the basis for robust standards in Europe, and beyond, that ensure the oil industry takes the practical actions urgently needed for our climate,” said Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based pressure group.
“A clear commitment to measure and monitor emissions is an important first step for significantly reducing them and I am proud of what we have achieved together,” said Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner.
The European Union is part of the partnership introducing the framework, alongside the UN, the European Defense Council and private companies, with assets on five continents, representing 30% of the world’s oil and gas production.
Simson added the EU’s support of the framework is the first deliverable under the Commission’s methane strategy, but said there are many more steps to cut emissions along the value chain.
Methane released directly into the atmosphere is a highly potent greenhouse gas with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Because of this, it is considered a priority under the European Green Deal, which aims to cut emissions of all greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050.
The Commission launched its methane strategy in October, taking a holistic approach to methane emissions but shying away from introducing legally binding measures at this stage.
In 2021, the Commission plans to put forward a legislative proposal on compulsory measurement, reporting and verification for all energy-related methane emissions, building on the framework set out under the partnership.
Green lawmakers criticised the strategy at the time, calling for clear targets and objectives to reduce methane emissions now.
“The European Commission only scratches the surface and limits itself to minor issues like plugging methane leaks and statistics. Counting emissions does not help when the order of the day is to reduce them,” said Jutta Paulus, a German Green MEP.
Reducing methane emissions from the energy sector by 90% would shave two tenths of a degree from the forecasted rise in the planet’s average temperature by 2050 and improve air quality, say backers of the new industry-led initiative.
According to the International Energy Agency, around three-quarters of methane emissions could be reduced with existing technologies and close to half could be done at net-zero cost.
“Reducing methane emissions is a crucial effort in the industry’s decarbonisation pathway,” said Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer of ENI, the Italian oil and gas company.
“As a factor on which we can have an immediate and concrete positive impact, the partnership offers an internationally recognised blueprint to companies across our industry willing to make improvements in their emission reductions in all phases of the value chain,” he said in a statement.
The Oil and Gas Methane Partnership launched in 2014 as a voluntary initiative to help companies reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. The new framework seeks to build on this.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]