Log in | Subscribe | RSS feed

What’s New

IEA: Methane emissions from energy sector 70% higher than official figures

23 February 2022

Global methane emissions from the energy sector are about 70% greater than the amount national governments have officially reported, according to the IEA Global Methane Tracker 2022 report released today [5418].

Methane is responsible for around 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, according to the IEA. Methane dissipates in the atmosphere faster than CO2 but is a much more powerful greenhouse gas during its shorter lifespan—the global warming potential of CH4 over a 100 year period (GWP100) is 34, while that of a 20 year period (GWP20) is 86 [3712].

The energy sector accounts for around 40% of methane emissions from human activity. This year’s expanded edition of the IEA’s Global Methane Tracker includes country-by-country emissions from coal mines and bioenergy for the first time, in addition to continued coverage of oil and natural gas operations. Methane emissions from the energy sector grew by just under 5% last year. This did not bring them back to their 2019 levels and slightly lagged the rise in overall energy use.

“At today’s elevated natural gas prices, nearly all of the methane emissions from oil and gas operations worldwide could be avoided at no net cost,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Last year, significant emissions were confirmed in Texas and parts of Central Asia, with Turkmenistan alone responsible for one-third of large emissions events seen by satellites in 2021. Relatively few major leaks were detected for the major onshore oil and gas producers in the Middle East.

The intensity of methane emissions from fossil fuel operations range widely from country to country: the best performing countries and companies are over 100 times better than the worst. Global methane emissions from oil and gas operations would fall by more than 90% if all producing countries matched Norway’s emissions intensity, the lowest worldwide.

Satellites have greatly increased the world’s knowledge of emission sources, and the IEA Global Methane Tracker incorporates the latest readings from satellites and other science-based measurement campaigns. While measured data continues to improve, the coverage provided by satellites is still far from complete: existing satellites do not provide measurements over equatorial regions, offshore operations, or northern areas such as the main Russian oil and gas producing areas.

If all methane losses from fossil fuel operations in 2021 had been captured and sold, then natural gas markets would have been supplied with an additional 180 billion cubic meters of natural gas, estimated the IEA. That is equivalent to all the gas used in Europe’s power sector and more than enough to ease today’s market tightness.

In the report, the IEA called for a rapid and sustained action to reduce global methane emissions, and emphasized the importance of the Global Methane Pledge—a methane reduction initiative launched at the COP26 Climate Change Conference. Led by the European Union and the United States, its participants agreed to reduce methane emissions from human activities—including agriculture, the energy sector and other sources—by 30% by 2030. However, of the five countries with the largest methane emissions from their energy sectors—China, Russia, the United States, Iran and India—only the United States is part of the Pledge.

Source: IEA


Natural Gas