A Global Alliance to Significantly Reduce Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector by 2030

Ongoing
started:
2019

The Global Methane Alliance brings together governments, financing institutions, international organizations and NGOs, and industry to support ambitious methane reduction targets from the oil and gas industry.

Countries that join the Alliance commit to include methane reduction targets from the oil and gas sector in their Nationally Determined Contribution, as part of their overall greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Countries will have the option to choose an absolute reduction target or a methane intensity target, depending on their actual methane emissions and of the level of development of their oil and gas industry.

  • Absolute reduction target of at least 45% reduction in methane emissions by 2025 and 60% to 75% by 2030. These are realistic and achievable targets, especially in a sector where technology and financing are largely available, and innovation supports even larger reductions.
  • Intensity target of “near-zero” methane emissions. Countries that select this approach should target an intensity of 0.25% or below.

International organizations and NGOs will support countries pursuing these targets through technical assistance and policy support. Participating oil and gas companies will share knowledge, technologies, and best management practices.

These commitments demonstrate the wide recognition from governments, civil society, and the industry that as long as oil and natural gas are part of the energy mix, it is imperative to improve their environmental performances.

Objectives

The Global Methane Alliance aims to support countries that commit to ambitious methane reduction targets in the oil and gas sector.

Reductions across the oil and gas industry in line with the Global Methane Alliance could reduce global emissions by 6 gigatons CO2e by 2030. According to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2019, this would achieve between 20%-50% of the emissions required to limit climate warming to 2-degrees. Reducing a short-lived climate pollutant like methane can buy us time to act more decisively in reducing CO2 emissions.

An effective methane management strategy can also support development goals. Methane emissions are a wasted resource, responsible for about $30 billion in lost product every year. Furthermore, methane emissions are often associated with the release of other dangerous gases that harm local communities. Global Methane Alliance partners are committed to help countries find the most efficient and cost-effective methane solutions that promote economic development, air quality improvement, and other country priorities.

Challenges

Despite increased international focus on climate change over the past decade, global greenhouse gases have risen to their highest levels ever. Limiting climate warming to 2°C or less will require unprecedented and immediate action. At COP 26, countries are expected to present enhanced NDC commitments in line with a 2°C scenario. Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is an important opportunity to dramatically increase the ambition of these commitments.

According to the IPCC, “deep reductions” in non-CO2 emissions like methane are necessary. The oil and gas sector is one of the largest emitters of methane, and presents a key opportunity to achieve rapid climate benefit. Because methane emissions are a wasted resource, reducing emissions can also support economic growth and other development goals. In most cases, controlling methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is technologically feasible, generates income for companies and countries, and contributes to reducing the climate footprint of oil and natural gas in a decarbonizing world.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a Global Warming Potential over 80 times more than that of carbon dioxide (CO2) over its 10- to 12-year lifespan. Methane is responsible for about a quarter of today’s global warming. If the world is to achieve the 1.5°C (or even a 2°C) global temperature target, deep reductions in methane emissions must be achieved by 2030. And because methane’s atmospheric lifespan is relatively short – 10 to 12 years – actions to reduce methane emissions can rapidly bend the curve away from dangerous warming, while also delivering air quality benefits.

Managing methane is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to slow the rate of global warming in the short term as efforts continue to decarbonize the energy system by adopting cleaner forms of energy. The International Energy Agency estimates the industry could reduce its worldwide emissions by 75 percent—and that up to two-thirds of those reductions can be realized at zero net cost. In most cases, controlling methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is technologically feasible, generates income for companies, and contributes to reducing the climate footprint of oil and natural gas as the world transitions to a low carbon energy system.

What we're doing

Since 2014 the UN Environment Programme hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has worked with a variety of partners including Governments, NGOs, and major international oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.  Together with the European Commission, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), the CCAC is conducting an extensive program of scientific studies to extend the global knowledge of methane emissions.

Companies involved in the CCAC’s Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) reduce methane leaks from nine key sources in upstream oil and gas operations following technical guidance documents that make the economic case for methane emissions reduction. The OGMP also provides a reporting framework that supports transparency on actions and results.  In support of the Global Methane Alliance’s targets and acknowledging that methane emissions reduction is a critical step in meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement, the OGMP is revising its reporting framework to turn it into a highly credible gold standard for reporting able to promote companies’ actions and provide stakeholders confidence in those.

The goal of the OGMP 2.0 is therefore to provide industry, civil society and government with more detailed and transparent information about methane emissions levels, sources and reductions opportunities – information that is essential for properly managing methane emissions in a way that will lead to deep reductions in mineral methane emissions over the next decade.

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) has worked since its birth on methane. In particular, OGCI members have committed to a collective stringent methane target and possess experience and knowledge that can support governments and other companies. The Methane Guiding Principles (MGP) is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that aims to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas value chain. Resources under development include a best practices toolkit and education program, principles for sound and effective methane policy and regulation, and a web-based information portal by the International Energy Agency (IEA). IEA will also provide best-available data and analysis on oil and gas methane emissions, abatement potentials, and technologies to support governments in drafting effective methane policy.

The CCAC, through its solution centre, is prepared to work with interested partners to assist all governments and other actors ready to make strong and ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Clean Air Task Force (CATF) will similarly provide technical and policy assistance to countries who commit to reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production. Furthermore, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will provide technical assistance and facilitate knowledge transfer on methane emissions measurement, reporting, and reduction, and may consider providing finance for methane reduction investment plans.

Who's involved

Lead Partner: A Coalition partner with an active role in coordinating, monitoring and guiding the work of an initiative.

Implementer: A Coalition partner or actor receiving Coalition funds to implement an activity or initiative.

Partners (3)

Partners (3)

Resources & tools

Activity contact

Manfredi Caltagirone,
Programme Management Officer
+33 1 44 37 46 99
manfredi.caltagirone [at] un.org
Giulia Ferrini,
Associate Programme Management Officer
+33 1 44 37 76 26
giulia.ferrini [at] un.org

Initiatives

Pollutants (SLCP)

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