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UK methane pollution - methane plume at Chelmsford Compressor Station discovered ahead of COP26

New evidence of UK methane pollution uncovered ahead of COP26

October 23, 2021 Work Area: Super Pollutants

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) has discovered evidence of significant UK methane pollution from oil and gas facilities in October 2021.

CATF toured oil and gas facilities across the UK on October 4-22, 2021. The sites include locations involved in oil production and gas transmission owned or operated by Island Gas Energy (iGas), National Grid, Shell, and a few others. CATF visited approximately 30 sites in total and has documented methane emissions at 24 sites.

Methane is the main component of fossil gas. It accounts for 28% of global warming, and levels in the atmosphere are surging. With more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of CO2 in the short-term, reducing methane is critical to slowing climate change.

The UK will play a critical role in advancing current commitments to methane emissions reduction as COP26 President and host nation.

“The UK has an opportunity to become a world leader in cutting methane pollution,” said Jonathan Banks, International Director of Super Pollutants at CATF. “They have helped spearhead the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 and are making the right noises on tackling the biggest low-hanging fruit in climate policy. But these images show that promises must be turned into action as soon as possible. True climate leadership is achieved by actions, not words.”

Fortunately, low-cost technologies and practices exist to slash emissions. The oil & gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions, almost all of which could be solved at negative to marginal costs given the proper incentives. The EU plus Norway and Great Britain represents the world’s 7th highest oil and gas methane polluter and is also the world’s largest importer of natural gas and one of the top importers of oil.

“Considering that cutting methane pollution is our best bet to avoid significant warming in the next 20 years, it’s spectacular how much natural gas is being released into the atmosphere,” said James Turitto, Super Pollutants at CATF. “In the middle of a gas crisis, it shows these companies have little regard for either the cost to the climate or costs to British citizens.”

With the official launch of the Global Methane Pledge just around the corner at COP26, uncovering evidence of methane pollution in the UK and across Europe is designed to drive action from policymakers sooner rather than later.

The Global Methane Pledge will commit signatories to a collective goal of reducing methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. 32 countries – including the UK – plus the European Union have already announced support for the Pledge, effectively covering 60% of the global economy.

CATF sees an opportunity to help governments around the world converge around the urgent need to address methane emissions. To help drive action, CATF has been collecting evidence of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities across Europe. So far, this has taken on over 250 sites in 12 countries. CATF has found evidence of methane emissions at the vast majority of those sites.

WATCH: A playlist of CATF’s site visits in the UK, October 2021

Press Contact: Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, remslie@cleanairtaskforce.org, +32 476-97-36-42

About Clean Air Task Force:
Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a non-profit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid global development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. We work towards these objectives through research and analysis, public advocacy leadership, and partnership with the private sector. With nearly 25 years of nationally and internationally recognized expertise on clean air policy and regulations and a fierce commitment to fully exploring all potential solutions. CATF is headquartered in Boston, with staff working virtually around the U.S. and abroad.

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