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Methane flare

Another alarm bell: Methane pollution found at oil and gas sites across France

March 14, 2022 Work Area: Super Pollutants

BRUSSELS — Clean Air Task Force (CATF) has discovered evidence of significant methane pollution from oil and gas facilities in France during the first months of 2022. 

CATF toured oil and gas facilities across France from January 24 to February 4, 2022. The sites include locations involved in oil production, gas transmission, and storage that are owned or operated by Geopetrol, GRTgaz, Bridge Oil and Storengy. CATF visited 20 sites in total and has documented methane emissions at 11 sites. 

Alessia Virone, Government Affairs Director at CATF, “France joins a long list of EU member states where CATF has discovered methane pollution in the oil and gas sector. We know that this is highly prevalent within Europe and are pleased to see the European Commission propose efforts to curb domestic methane emissions — but legislators cannot afford to ignore the potential for severe methane issues around the world.” 

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. 

France will play a critical role in advancing current commitments to methane emissions reduction, particularly during the discussions following the proposal made by the European Commission for a methane regulation. The French Government sets the agenda and lead debates during its Presidency of the European Union and have the opportunity to push the fight against methane emissions, as a key Member State of the Union at the European Parliament and the Council. 

Jonathan Banks, International Director, Super Pollutants at CATF: “Europe is reliant on imported oil and gas. Our research hammers home what scientists and researchers have been warning us for years – methane is being leaked or vented into the air up and down the oil and gas supply chain. To properly address this problem, we need legislation that addresses every part of that supply chain.” 

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 shocking how much fossil gas is being released into the atmosphere,” said James Turitto, Campaign Manager at CATF. “In the middle of an energy crisis, it shows these companies have little regard for either the cost to the climate or costs to French citizens.” 

2021 was the breakout year for action on methane. There was the the official launch of the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 and the first EU wide proposal for a methane legislation by the European Commission, which has set the train in motion for action on this climate threat. CATF’s work to uncover evidence of methane pollution in France and across Europe is designed to drive action from policymakers sooner rather than later. 

Since 2021, CATF has been collecting evidence of methane emissions from oil and gas facilities across Europe. So far, this has taken on more than 300 sites in 12 countries. CATF has found evidence of methane emissions at the vast majority of those sites.


Press Contact

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, Clean Air Task Force, remslie@cleanairtaskforce.org,  +32 476 97 36 42

About Clean Air Task Force

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.  

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