UNEP reveals methane emissions can be almost halved in a decade

Raised oil pipeline

New report receives high-level backing from the European Union and Unites States of America.

A new global assessment by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45% this decade.

According to the report, the 45% reduction would reduce global warming by 0.3 degrees and cut ozone pollution (smog) sufficiently to prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospitalisations, 73 billion lost labour hours and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually.

The comprehensive assessment highlights a series of significant investments needed to achieve the outcome. These include locating and fixing methane leaks in oil and gas transport and storage, residential and commercial energy efficiency and continuing the shift to using more renewable energy.

The report, Global Methane Assessment – Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions, has received high-level backing from the USA and the EU.

Kadri Simson, European Union commissioner for energy, said: “Building on the EU methane strategy last October, this UN report highlights just how damaging methane emissions can be and the need to take concerted action at an international level.”

Rick Duke, senior advisor to the US special presidential envoy on climate change agreed, saying: “The United States is committed to driving down methane emissions both at home and globally—through measures like research and development, standards to control fossil and landfill methane, and incentives to address agricultural methane. We look forward to continued partnership with the CCAC on this crucial climate priority.”

The assessment was compiled by an international team of scientists using state-of-the-art composition and climate models and policy analyses from four leading research centres. The evidence was then used to create the most comprehensive cost benefit analysis of methane mitigation options assembled to date.

While the potential damage of inaction is highlighted, the assessment offers cause for real optimism. It notes that many of the measures needed, like a rise in renewable energy, is already underway. It also emphasises that cutting methane leaks in the oil and gas sector holds significant potential to profit the companies involved, given that leaks represent significant loss of product.

Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP, said: “Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years and complements necessary efforts to reduce carbon dioxide. The benefits to society, economies and the environment are numerous and far outweigh the cost.”

Click here to read the full report, Global Methane Assessment