Holding the oil and gas sector accountable to methane promises

Photo-illustration: Pixabay (catazul)

Much of the world has felt the sting of climate change this year although, as ever, the poor and vulnerable have suffered the most.

This climate chaos has arrived at estimated global average temperatures of 1.4°C above pre-industrial levels. According to UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report, we are heading for 2.5 to 2.9°C this century. At those temperatures, the sting will become debilitating and deadly for many more people and economies.

We must deliver low-carbon development transformations that slash greenhouse gas emissions, ideally by 28-42 per cent by 2030 to stay on track for 2°C and 1.5°C respectively. Deep reductions in methane emissions are an important part of this transformation. Cuts to this powerful climate-warming gas are relatively cheap, fast and easy to deliver. Such cuts will buy time for decarbonization efforts in developing countries and bring other benefits, such as reducing deadly air pollution and avoiding crop losses.

So, it is welcome to see the oil and gas sector promising action through the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter.


However, transparency is going to be critical because trust is low. Sure, companies are saying the right things. Yet the coal, oil and gas production planned for 2030 is more than double the levels consistent with 1.5°C. It would require serious mental gymnastics for oil and gas companies to convince themselves they are doing all they can for the climate.

UNEP is working with the industry to ensure accountability. The Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0, part of UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory, is emerging as the global Monitoring, Reporting and Verification system on methane in the oil and gas sector. The UNEP Methane Alert and Response System detects methane emissions and notifies governments and operators so they can plug the leaks quickly. My thanks to the Bloomberg Philanthropies for providing new funding to these initiatives.

Now we need the oil and gas sector to make stronger promises, live up to them, and accompany action on methane with deep decarbonization of the energy system. This is how the sector can earn the world’s trust and adopt new business models that will allow them to remain profitable during and after the inevitable low-carbon transition.

Source: UNEP