Australia’s methane emissions, the Global Methane Pledge and COP27
Methane inventories in select fossil fuel basins (size of bubble = Mt CH4/yr), coverage of satellite data (x-axis, relative to total country emissions) and annual trend rate since 2019 (y-axis).
A report on global methane emissions by Karryos shows the only country to make headway on the Global Methane Pledge this year is Australia, thanks to a sharp reduction in methane from the Bowen Basin coal mines, as reported by Renew Economy.
The report says in the last year methane emissions from the globe’s largest oil, gas and coal basins, which are responsible for a tenth of the world’s methane, were largely unchanged in the 2022 year to date compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“Emissions from Australia’s Bowen basin have declined by approximately 11 per cent per annum,” Karryos said in its pre-COP27 report.
In stark contrast the Advancing Global Methane Pledge Presidency event on 11 November at COP27 appeared to be endorsing fossil gas as a transition fuel, with the possibility of rorting finance to install well known established technology to reduce flaring and leaks for an industry that is already highly profitable and will likely earn income from the methane saved.
.See also the international action on methane reduction by the USA, Canada and Nigeria.
On 11 November the US State department announced another methane pledge relating to import and export of fossil fuels, which has been criticised as diverting focus from what they should do to tackle methane emissions.
15 November: Climate and Clean Air Ministerial at COP 27 | Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt reported by ENB/IISD. “The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) saw ministers and leaders step up implementation efforts during the Climate and Clean Air Ministerial Roundtable, which took place on the sidelines of COP 27 and serves as the CCAC’s highest level political body to advance the Coalition’s work.”
17 November: Very informative Ministerial on 17 November on the Global Methane pledge with an announcement that 150 countries have now signed. Methane action plans are being developed by many countries. Earlier in the day Methane action held a side-event on Methane matters: towards a global methane agreeement..
“The encouraging trend in Australia’s Bowen basin likely reflects mitigation activities by mining companies. Reducing emissions from coal mining is based on well-known technologies that were originally developed to reduce the risk of underground explosions.
“Until recently, coal producers invested in these technologies only to address safety concerns.
“Now that methane from coal mining is in the spotlight among a growing number of investors and regulators, there is a business case to be made for reducing emissions beyond the level required by safety protocols. The implication for the rest of the energy industry is clear: mitigation is possible with the right incentives.”
Australia will sign Global Methane Pledge
Australia committed to signing the Global Methane Pledge in late October, and allocated budget funding to address agricultural methane emissions. The Morrison Government refused to sign the pledge at COP26, part of the deal the National Party cut with the Liberal Party.
In the recent Federal budget Funded actions included:
- Australian Government investment will include up to $3 billion from the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to support investment in, for example, low emissions technologies and component manufacturing and agricultural methane reduction.
- Under the Powering Australia plan, the Government has also committed $8 million for the seaweed industry to support commercialisation of the low-emissions livestock feed supplement Asparagopsis.
- The second stage of the Methane Emissions Reduction in Livestock (MERiL) Program will provide $5 million in funding to develop technologies to deliver low emission feed supplements to grazing animals and determine their technical viability and commercial potential.
For background on the Global Methane Pledge and its initiation, see my post from September 2021: Global Methane Pledge aims for 30 percent methane emissions cut from 2020 levels by 2030
International action on methane emissions
President Biden announced a new EPA expanded methane rule regulating methane emissions. Reuters reports that:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will expand its 2021 methane rule so that it requires drillers to find and plug leaks at all of the country’s well sites, and not just the biggest ones, defying months of lobbying from drillers.
The industry lobbied hard against the rule applying to small production wells and capped wells, but studies have shown that more than half of methane emitted from U.S. well sites comes from wells that produce less than 15 barrels a day.
Biden announced that the US would be “investing more than $20 billion in domestic methane mitigation to do things like cap orphan wells leaking methane, improving industrial equipment in the oil and gas sectors to reduce emissions.”
Reuters reported “The EPA said the stronger rules would reduce methane from the oil and gas industry by 87% below 2005 levels and would help the United States to meet its commitment under the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane emissions economy-wide by 30% this decade.”
The enhanced Methane rule would likely come into operation during 2023 or 2024. Election of a Republican as President in 2024 could role back this enhanced rule.
Reuters reported for Canada they would would target a 75% cut in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2030:
Canada said its new rules would target a 75% cut in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2030, including through a proposed monthly requirement for oil and gas companies to find and fix methane leaks in their infrastructure.
“It’s kind of a big deal for us, we are the fourth biggest producer of oil and gas. So we have a big responsibility, but it’s also a big challenge,” Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said at the U.N. climate summit on Friday.
Nigeria as one of the top ten methane emitters, is also taking action reports Reuters, with “new rules for how to reduce emissions in its oil and gas industry. They include requirements for leak detection and repair, limits to flaring and controls on venting equipment.”
Introductory video on why reducing methane matters.
Unprecedented Momentum for Keeping 1.5°C Within Reach while Advancing Energy Security, Food Security, and Sustainable Development
Achieving the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) goal of cutting anthropogenic methane emissions at least 30 percent by 2030 from 2020 levels is the fastest way to reduce near-term warming and is necessary to keep a 1.5°C temperature limit within reach. Achieving this goal will drive significant energy security, food security, health, and development gains.
In the year since it launched at COP26, the Global Methane Pledge has generated unprecedented momentum for methane action. Country endorsements of the GMP have grown from just over 100 last year to 150, more than 50 countries have developed national methane action plans or are
in the process of doing so, substantial new financial resources are being directed to methane action, and partners have launched “pathways” of policies and initiatives to drive methane reductions in key methane-emitting sectors – a GMP Energy Pathway launched at the June 2022 Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate and a GMP Food and Agriculture Pathway and GMP Waste Pathway, both launched today at COP27.
Advancing the Global Methane Pledge Presidency Event 11 November
The advancing the Global Methane pledge is a presidency event with a strong focus on maintaining gas as a transition fuel. This was made clear by Mr Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of Total Energies to support gas extraction for decades hence.
They are discussing concessional loans and subsidies with World Bank and US Exim Bank to maintain Fossil gas through reducing flaring and fugitive emissions.
The gas companies are already profitable entities and should be funding the reduction in emissions themselves, especially as recovery of methane can then be sold to cover the costs
The Panel included:
- Amb. Carlos Pascual, Senior VP for Geopolitics and International Affairs, S&P Global Commodity Insights;
- Mrs Eleonor Kramarz, Head of Energy Transition, S&P Global; (New York based business and financial analytics company)
- Mr Mahmoud Maher, Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Egypt;
- HE Tarek El Molla, Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Egypt;
- Mr Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of Total Energies; (French oil and gas company)
- Mr Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of Baker Hughes; (Texas based oil and gas company)
- Mrs Reta Jo Lewis, President and Chair, US Exim Bank; (US export/import Finance)
- Mr Riccardo Puliti, VP for Infrastructure, WB. (World Bank Finance)
Solutions exist to stop flaring, and to monetize the gas saved. The IEA has made that clear.
Interesting they say solutions for agriculture methane emissions are not complex, the opposite to arguments made here in Australia.
Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels
“The non-binding declaration is not ambitious enough to effectively cut methane emissions from the fossil fuels supply chain and slow down the climate catastrophe in the short term. In the long term, the only answer to the climate crisis is to phase out fossil fuels including fossil gas by 2035 and embark on a transition to 100% renewable energy. The way that some countries and the EU exploit the ongoing COP27 by pitching fossil gas and hydrogen as a transition fuel is completely out of step with reality and science.If this new initiative ends up legitimizing and prolonging future fossil fuel consumption it will have done the climate more harm than good.”
November 17: Methane Ministerial: Keeping 1.5°C Within Reach While Strengthening Energy and Food Security.
US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry announced that 150 countries have now signed the pledge. The Climate Trace tool announced last week will help enormously in identifying methane emissions sources.
Methane emissions is something we can do something about.
Frans Timmermans: Now on to implementation. Working on National Strategies. Plans need to be turned into action for all of us. The EU will continue to support this work
China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua also attended at the invitation of friend John Kerry to address this meeting and outlined why China has not yet signed the pledge and what China is doing at present to identify methane sources and address fugitive emissions. China has just finished an action plan.
One third of methane emissions come from the energy sector. About half can be abated at no or little cost.
Methane Alert and Response System (MARS) will go live in two months time.
Norway’s minister says we will need both green hydrogen and blue hydrogen (using CCS)
The Global Methane Pledge is critical to keeping the 1.5°C within reach. It has generated unprecedented momentum for methane action, including growing political and financial support, national methane plans and policies, and new initiatives in energy, agriculture, and waste.
Speakers: John Kerry US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President European Commission, Inger Anderson, Executive Director UNEP, Ministers from Global Methane Pledge countries, civil society and philanthropy.
The United States and EU will also launch other initiatives on Thursday under the Global Methane Pledge that tackle oil and gas, agriculture and waste sectors.
Among them is an effort to help smallhold farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Colombia, Pakistan and Vietnam reduce methane in their dairy systems.
Another is a program providing $70 million for research on enteric fermentation – the digestive process in which some animals produce gas and the largest single source of methane emissions from agriculture.
The United States and EU also announced that Carbon Mapper, which tracks methane by satellite, will develop a global waste sector methane baseline assessment on landfills and dumpsites. The waste sector accounts for 20% of methane emissions.
November 17: Methane matters: towards a global methane agreeement
One year after the Global Methane Pledge’s launch, speakers will present which measures need to be taken by signatories to ensure ambitious methane cuts. They will also explore the need for strong and bold diplomatic efforts to develop an international governance framework on methane mitigation.
- Nusa Urbancic, Changing Markets Foundation
- Kim O’Dowd, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- Mariel Vilella, GAIA
- Dr Kathleen Mar, IASS Potsdam,
- Camila Labarca, Ministry of Environment, Chile
- Carolina Urmenata, Global Methane Hub
Associated media release with this session:
[Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – November 17, 2022] At the COP27 climate summit, NGOs and scientists are calling on delegates to specify concrete steps for cutting methane emissions, and for stepped up development of methane removal technologies.
Today, as the Global Methane Pledge ministerial meeting reviews the first year of voluntary progress towards cutting methane emissions 30% by 2030, climate groups called for a mandatory Global Methane Agreement that would set binding targets for cutting methane emissions and lowering atmospheric methane levels. Side event today on a Global Methane Agreement was held today at COP27, and can be seen on YouTube here.
So far, negotiations at COP27 have been long on general frameworks for climate finance, and short on concrete steps for keeping global warming within the 1.5°C target set by the Paris agreement.
This week the G20 issued a statement “resolv[ing] to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” But last month, the UN Environmental Programme warned greenhouse gas emissions reduction has proved so meager that there is currently “no credible pathway” to staying within that guardrail. Some delegations at the COP, including China’s, didn’t want 1.5°C mentioned in the text of the summit’s official document. Meanwhile, protestors outside the summit demanded “to keep 1.5 alive.” Concerted action on decarbonization together with methane mitigation and removal is our best and fastest option to limit overshooting the 1.5°C guardrail in the near term, advocates and scientists say.
China is by far the world’s largest methane emitter. It has not signed the Global Methane Pledge, though last year it did sign the bilateral US-China Glasgow Declaration on climate action, where both countries agreed to develop a national action plan for “methane control and reductions in the 2020s” by COP27. China has not yet revealed the details of its draft plan, but a Chinese official at the COP signaled that a preliminary plan has been written.
“We’re making progress on methane, and there’s wide recognition of the imperative to lower methane levels, but we’re not going fast enough,” said Daphne Wysham, CEO of Methane Action. “To keep 1.5 alive, we’ll need more than voluntary frameworks and preliminary plans. We need a binding agreement, with targets and timetables for getting record-high atmospheric methane concentrations back down to preindustrial levels. With a combination of deep emissions cuts and fast-tracking methane removal technologies, scientists believe this could be accomplished by 2050, which would avoid a 0.6 degrees Celsius of warming. Developing methane removal could also equip us to deal with a worst-case scenario of a methane burst from thawing permafrost in the Arctic. Once proven safe and effective, with good governance in place, methane removal will be an essential part of climate restoration.”
Research is underway on promising methane removal technologies that could potentially accelerate the natural process of methane oxidation in the atmosphere, breaking it down to water vapor and carbon dioxide — shortening the duration that super-potent methane traps heat in the atmosphere, delivering a big net gain for the climate that would substantially reduce radiative forcing and near-term warming.
Working with scientists and governance experts, Methane Action has laid out a feasible timetable for developing and deploying methane removal. It calls for fully funding methane removal research and development over the next two years, and advancing governance and social license over the next five years, including framing a Global Methane Agreement.
By 2028, with governance and social license in place, small-scale tests of methane removal technologies that prove safe and effective could get underway, and large-scale tests could follow by or before 2030. By the early to mid-2030s, assuming biogenic methane emissions stay relatively constant, methane removal could potentially lower atmospheric methane levels 10% to 1700 parts per billion, significantly enhancing the impacts of fulfilling the Global Methane Pledge goal of cutting emissions 30%. By 2050, with methane emissions cut 30-45% and methane removal scaled up, atmospheric methane could be restored to its pre-industrial level of 700 ppb. Scientists estimate this would avoid 0.6°C of warming in the next few decades.
“Returning methane levels in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels by 2050 is achievable,” said Wysham. “Methane is one of the most powerful levers we have to bend the climate curve in the near term, and we really can use it to reduce warming 0.6°C by midcentury. But it will require specificity and commitment to these goals. If governments and jurisdictions act quickly to frame and sign a Global Methane Agreement that adopts targets similar to the ones we’ve laid out, we’ll have a much better chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.”
“We need to move beyond pledges—which are just the starting gun in the methane sprint that we need to win to keep the planet safe—and make it a planetary priority to develop a binding methane agreement in the next two years, “ said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, in Paris, and member of the Board of Methane Action.
Last year, leading climate scientists endorsed a sign-on letter calling for aggressive reductions in methane emissions, funding research and development of methane removal technologies and framing and implementing a global agreement to return atmospheric methane concentrations to preindustrial levels. Last week, climate pioneer James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, signed the letter.
Many of Climate Action Network’s over 1500 members and other citizen sector organizations are signing onto a new statement asking governments and international bodies to research and develop promising methane removal technologies and to frame governance for testing and deploying them safely and justly. Signatories “urge all governments and jurisdictions to take such actions rapidly and ask that relevant frameworks including the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement address them.”
“Many members of Climate Action Network are very concerned about the rapid rise in atmospheric methane,” said Dr. Stephan Singer of the Climate Action Network, speaking at COP27. “Methane emissions are occurring in many sectors like industrial agriculture and fossil fuels and we would like to significantly change these sectors to zero emissions, eventually.”
The statement has been endorsed by Oxfam International, Union of Concerned Scientists (US), Friends Committee on National Legislation (US), Hip Hop Caucus (US), Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, The Wilderness Society (US), Stand.Earth (US, Canada), Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative (US), The Climate Center (US), Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (US), Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (US), Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pennsylvania (US), Extinction Rebellion (US), Unitarian Universalist Environmental Justice Ministry (US), Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment (US) Extinction Rebellion (US), Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (US)
The People’s Justice Council (US) Center for Sustainable Economy (US), Stable Planet Alliance (US), Elders Climate Action (US), Foundation for Climate Restoration (US) The Imani Group (US), Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (US) EcoEquity (US), Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (US), Government Accountability Project (US), Hago Energetics Benefit Corporation (US), Climate Action Network New Zealand, Climate Action Network Zimbabwe, Climate Action Network Australia, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth -Nigeria, BEST Futures (Australia), Northern Beaches Climate Action Network (Australia), Iceland Nature Conservation Association (Iceland), Sociedad Amigos del Viento (Uruguay), Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Argentina), Climate Action for Lifelong Learners (Canada), AbibiNsroma Foundation (Ghana), Talanoa (Brazil), Climate Reality Leaders (Finland), and Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental A.C (Mexico).
more to come?….
- RenewEconomy, Rachel Williamson, 7 November 2022, Australia praised for methane reductions, but should be prepared for uncomfortable COP https://reneweconomy.com.au/australia-praised-for-methane-reductions-but-should-be-prepared-for-uncomfortable-cop/
- Climate Citizen, 24 October, 2022, Australia commits to signing Global Methane Pledge https://takvera.blogspot.com/2022/10/australia-commits-to-signing-global.html
- Reuters, 11 November 2022, Canada, Nigeria target oil and gas methane emissions with new laws, https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/canada-nigeria-target-oil-gas-methane-emissions-with-new-laws-2022-11-11/
- Reuters, 12 November, 2022, COP27: U.S. targets methane in ‘relentless’ emissions focus https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/biden-administration-toughens-crackdown-oil-industry-methane-2022-11-11/
- US Department of State, 11 November, 2022, Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels https://www.state.gov/joint-declaration-from-energy-importers-and-exporters-on-reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-fossil-fuels/
- CAN Europe, 11 November, 2022, An empty Methane Declaration will not help to phase out Fossil Fuels https://caneurope.org/an-empty-methane-declaration-will-not-help-to-phase-out-fossil-fuels/