Fatih Birol: ‘no excuse’ for level of methane emissions
The International Energy Agency’s executive director announced that a major new study would examine the transition of oil and gas companies including the role of investors.
The global energy industry was responsible for 135 million tonnes of methane released into the atmosphere in 2022, only just below the record highs seen in 2019, according to an update of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) Global Methane Tracker.
Methane is thought to be responsible for 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution, with the energy sector accounting for around 40% of total methane emissions attributable to human activity.
Launching the updated tracker at a webinar on 21 February, IEA executive director Fatih Birol said that global methane emissions from oil and gas could be reduced by 75% with existing technologies. This would require an investment of $100m, equivalent to less than 3% of the “windfall income” accrued by oil and gas companies worldwide last year.
“Our new Global Methane Tracker shows that some progress is being made but the 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,” he said.
“There is no excuse for the oil and gas industry not to move quickly and there is no excuse for governments not to step in and to make this happen.”
Major oil and gas study
Birol said that the IEA was planning to launch a major study to be launched ahead of COP 28 on the net-zero transitions of the oil and gas industry.
When asked by Net Zero Investor at the webinar how investors could put pressure on oil and gas companies to reduce their methane emissions, Christophe McGlade, head of the IEA’s Energy Supply Unit, said this would be one of the key questions addressed in the study.
“But there is a lot that investors can already be doing when discussing climate change and discussing alignment of oil and gas companies with net-zero targets,” he said.
“Alignment is one, understanding what those companies are doing on the ground in terms of their investments into new technologies away from traditional operations.”
McGlade said that tackling methane emissions was the most important thing that oil and gas companies could do to lower the emissions-intensity of their own production.
“And if we have that pressure coming from investors in helping those companies reduce their emissions, lending to projects that will reduce their own emissions, all of that will help move us on the right path towards getting that substantial reduction in the overall emissions intensity of oil and gas production.”