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Global Methane Tracker 2023

International Energy Agency

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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has provided its latest estimates of methane emissions from across the sector in its 2023 Global Methane Tracker. The Tracker provides information on the contributions of the oil and gas and coal sectors to methane emissions, as well as the opportunities and costs to reduce emissions. 


Specifically, the Tracker report notes that methane is responsible for around 30% of the increase in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution, with the concentration of methane in the atmosphere being over two-and-a-half times greater than pre-industrial levels. 


The energy sector is responsible for almost 40% of total methane emissions from human activities – the second largest contribution, after the agricultural sector. 


With respect to oil and gas, the report suggests emissions can be reduced by more than 75% through the implementation of mitigation measures. Mitigation measures include leak detection and prevention, repair programmes, leaky equipment upgrades, and installing emissions control devices. It also notes that company policies that adopt a zero-tolerance approach to methane leakage would be important to reduce such emissions. The report suggests that such abatement is cost-effective in the oil and gas sector in particular, as the IEA estimates that around 40% of methane emissions from oil and gas operations could be avoided at no net cost. With respect to comparing specific mitigation measures, the report suggests that stopping all non-emergency flaring and venting is the single most impactful measure countries can take. It suggests that ending natural gas waste would reduce global temperature rise by nearly 0.1 °C by 2050. 


With respect to coal mine methane (CMM), methane emissions can occur for a variety of reasons, including through drainage systems, seepage from coal seams, ventilation systems, and post-mining activities. The report estimates that nearly 55% of methane emissions from coal mines could be avoided using current technologies. It makes clear that cutting down on coal consumption remains the most effective way to reduce CMM. However, it also notes that mitigation measures are possible and should still be a priority. Mitigation measures include abating methane from ventilation systems, on-site recovery and use of ventilation air methane for underground coal mines, degasification systems etc. The report highlights the Global Methane Initiative, which has developed country profiles that assess a country’s unique set of CMM abatement challenges and opportunities.  


More generally, the report notes that the IEA further provides information on specific country-level estimates for energy-related methane emissions as well as abatement options as part of its Tracker.  


This report demonstrates the significant contribution methane emissions from the energy sector to climate change, and the ample opportunity to mitigate climate change using measures that target methane emissions in the sector. It can be used to provide evidence and guidance on how to measure and fully capture the types of impacts that a proposed fossil fuel production project can have on climate change (with respect to methane emissions), and therefore to bolster the case for rejecting the project. It can also be used to ensure that conditions to undertake mitigation measures are imposed on permits for projects that are accepted in order to reduce the amount of methane emissions its operations might create. 

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