Our Work in International Oil and Gas
Work Area: Methane Pollution Prevention
When it comes to quickly slowing the rate of global climate change, no other single action can compare to reducing oil and gas methane emissions. Anthropogenic methane emissions are responsible for about half a degree Celsius of net warming experienced today, and the oil and gas sector is among the largest sources of these emissions globally. The availability of low-cost technology combined with the relatively few companies and countries with substantial oil and gas production creates an unprecedented opportunity to reduce warming now, and buy the world time to fully decarbonize global energy systems, limiting warming over the longer term.
CATF’s global methane work seeks to significantly slash as well as prevent increases in methane emissions from oil and gas development and other sources. In countries where development is likely to begin or expand, CATF aims to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized through the application of modern technologies and practices and the regulatory knowledge developed over the last 20 years. CATF’s current international work focuses on country-level advocacy for strong and enforceable methane standards including work in Canada, Mexico, European Union, Norway, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Nigeria. In addition, CATF is working with the Arctic Council, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and other international bodies to make methane emission reductions a focus of their work.
Africa has substantial oil and gas production, with projected 2040 emissions of more than 10 million tons annually. Several African countries have signaled strong interest in reducing emissions, with Nigeria among the leaders.
Nigeria’s latest submission to the UNFCCC on its commitments to the Paris climate accords sets a specific goal of slashing methane emissions by 60% by 2030. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) supported the Clean Air Task Force and Carbon Limits Nigeria to work hand in hand with the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources, and the other stakeholders to undertake several activities, including the analysis of the sources of methane emissions and their potential for abatement. Employing the Country Methane Abatement Tool, developed by CATF, Nigeria’s emissions were mapped out and we explored mitigation pathways.
Our expanding partnerships with countries including Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana are great examples of how we see Africa’s leadership role in methane mitigation related to the prevalence of oil and gas production across the continent.
In September of 2021, the European Union and the United States announced a landmark new Global Methane Pledge to collectively reduce worldwide methane emissions from all sectors by 30% (below 2020 levels) by 2030 and to take comprehensive domestic action to achieve this target. With this new international baseline, it is clear that the EU must put in place a comprehensive policy framework that addresses methane emissions from oil and gas.
CATF is currently working to promote ambitious, EU-wide policy for methane emissions reductions from the oil and gas sector as a relatively easy, cheap, and fast to implement approach. Our methane policy recommendations fall into five core areas:
- Comprehensive Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program
- Ban on Routine Venting and Flaring
- Regulation on Measurement, Reporting and Verification
- Tough Import Standards from Production Regions Outside the EU
- Dealing with Abandoned and Unused Oil and Gas Wells
For more information on our efforts to push smart methane policy in the EU, visit our campaign website cutmethane.eu.
The International Energy Agency recently reported that a 50% reduction in O&G methane emissions is possible by deploying existing negative- and zero-cost measures to reduce O&G methane emissions. This would result in the same climate impact by 2100 as closing all existing coal-fired power plants in China. Furthermore, according to IEA, a 75% reduction (the goal Mexico has adopted with its recently proposed regulations) is technically feasible.
In June of 2016, the leaders of North America joined together to set a goal, backed by regulations, of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45%. Canada has followed this commitment up with strong regulations to cut emissions finalized in 2018. Mexico will finalize shortly regulations that will be the strongest in the world, slashing methane emissions by 75%. Other countries are paying attention, and CATF’s work will assist countries that show the most promise, with developing and implementing new policies to control methane emissions. Ensuring that any oil and gas development that happens, adheres to the strictest environmental standards possible, is the goal of CATF’s international methane work.
Seeing the potential for quicker action on climate mitigation, several South American governments are considering pressing ahead on methane regulation. CATF has focused work in Colombia, Argentina and Ecuador. In Colombia, we have successfully highlighted the impact of methane pollution and helped build the advocacy network and government capacity to spark a drive for a regulatory solution to methane pollution. In 2020 CATF provided Colombia’s government with technical advice on its draft methane regulations, which will be submitted for public consultation and finalized in 2021.
In Argentina, our work with civil society, the government, and the national oil and gas company NOC has put methane mitigation at the heart of stakeholder discussions. A bill to regulate methane emissions was introduced in the Argentine Senate in 2020; since then, discussions have been taking place among stakeholders at national and international levels, including United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
In Ecuador, CATF has initiated a strong collaboration with the Energy Ministry to launch discussions around methane abatement. CATF’s Country Methane Abatement Tool (CoMAT) will enable us to quantify these emissions and provide policy options.
In all three countries, CATF will continue to work with civil society to develop technical, policy, and campaign capacity to help these groups apply effective pressure for government action. By connecting experts to regulators and serving as a clearinghouse for accumulated knowledge and best practices, we have helped to support the groundwork for next steps with governments and stakeholders, which will help these nations reach their individual climate mitigation goals and solidify momentum for multilateral agreements to drastically cut oil and gas methane emissions.