IEA: Methane emissions from fossil fuels must decline following COP28

A recent analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that after a slight rise in 2023, methane emissions from fossil fuels are poised to decrease, spurred by new policies and pledges emerging from the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

According to the IEA’s latest Global Methane Tracker, methane emissions from the energy sector reached nearly 120 million tonnes in 2023, with an additional 10 million tonnes coming from bioenergy sources. The top 10 emitting countries accounted for two-thirds of these emissions, with the United States, Russia, and China leading the pack in the oil, gas, and coal sectors.

Satellite observations revealed a concerning increase in significant fossil fuel leaks in 2023 compared to the previous year, emphasizing the urgent need for action. These leaks included a significant blowout in Kazakhstan that lasted over 200 days.

The IEA asserts that methane emissions from fossil fuels must substantially decline this decade to meet international climate targets.

“A 75% cut in methane emissions from fossil fuels by 2030 is imperative to stop the planet from warming to a dangerous level. I am encouraged by the momentum we’ve seen in recent months, which our analysis shows could make an enormous and immediate difference in the world’s fight against climate change,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

“Now, we must focus on transforming commitments into action – while continuing to aim higher. Well known policies and existing technologies could reduce methane emissions from fossil fuels substantially. The IEA stands ready to help the energy sector meet its goals by deploying these measures, and we will continue to monitor progress – a key part of our wider efforts to ensure countries deliver on the energy promises they made at COP28,” he said.

Efforts to cut methane emissions are expected to intensify in 2024 and beyond, with nearly 200 governments pledging to reduce emissions by 2030 substantially. However, the IEA warns that while current pledges could cut emissions by 50% by 2030 if fully implemented, most lack concrete execution plans.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributes significantly to global warming. While dissipating faster than carbon dioxide, it has a much more significant warming effect during its lifespan. Driving down methane emissions helps limit global warming and improves air quality.

Importantly, reducing methane emissions is economically viable. The IEA’s analysis suggests that around 40% of methane emissions from fossil fuel operations in 2023 could have been mitigated at no net cost.

Cutting methane emissions is a crucial step in combating climate change. With the momentum gained from COP28 and growing awareness of the importance of methane reduction, concerted global efforts are underway to address this pressing issue. (nsh)

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