Emission management

Methane Hits Record High in Atmosphere as Fossil Fuel Companies Diverge

Oil and gas producers in Europe commit to reporting emissions, but major US firms do not.

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More than 60 oil and gas companies committed on 23 November to a new framework to report methane emissions as the United Nations reported that atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas reached a record high.

The plan from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) tasks companies with reporting methane emissions from both their core operations as well as joint ventures. As a part of the voluntary framework, companies will share their own methane reduction targets with OGMP, an initiative managed by the UN Environment Programme.

The plan revamps an existing OGMP framework and calls on companies to outline how they will realize their objectives to cut methane emissions. The 62 companies that have joined OGMP represent an estimated 30% of global oil and gas production, according to the partnership. The group said it seeks to deliver a 45% reduction in the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions by 2025.

Individual targets from the companies—which include European firms such as Equinor, Total, and Royal Dutch Shell—will be reviewed periodically, in line with a “common objective to continuously reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Methane is the chief component of natural gas.

Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president of energy at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said, while the framework is voluntary, it’s still an “important contribution to advancing the cause” of lowering oil and gas methane emissions.

EDF has worked with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition since 2014, Brownstein said, and helped take OGMP and the methane reporting framework to its latest form.

“For the first time, companies are committing to regularly measure their methane emissions using strict science-based standards, as opposed to engineering estimates,” Brownstein said.

According to the separate report from the World Meteorological Organization—a UN agency—methane reached a new high in 2019 and has increased 161% above preindustrial levels “due to increased emissions from anthropogenic sources,” including the fossil fuel industry.

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