MOMBASA, Kenya (HPD) — The International Energy Agency on Tuesday accused fossil fuel industries of not doing enough to curb methane emissions and undermining climate goals to limit global warming.
Economic uncertainty, high energy prices and security of supply concerns, which would have led to a cut in emissions in 2022, were ineffective as methane emissions remained “stubbornly high,” the report said.
“Methane cuts are among the cheapest options to limit global warming in the short term,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “There’s just no excuse.”
The agency’s annual report on the state of methane emissions found that 75% of those produced by the oil and gas sector can be reduced with much cheaper and more readily available technologies.
Methane, a component of natural gas, can escape into the air from oil and gas infrastructure. Fossil fuel companies can burn excess gas, which can release methane into the atmosphere.
The report criticized the refusal of big oil and gas companies to shell out the roughly $100 billion needed for technologies to further cut emissions, which is less than 3% of the industry’s record profits last year.
The energy sector is responsible for almost 40% of the total average methane emissions from human activity, behind only agriculture, and for about 135 million tons of methane released into the atmosphere last year.
“The uncontrolled release of methane in the production of fossil fuels is a problem that sometimes goes unnoticed in the public debate,” Birol said. “Fossil fuel producers need to step up and policy makers need to step in, and both need to step in fast.”
Another option contemplated in the report is to limit emissions from coal mines, another source of methane, by reducing the consumption of the mineral. The agency has produced a toolkit and roadmap on this for policy makers and industry.
Methane is a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term and is responsible for around a fifth of global warming. In 2021, world leaders have committed to reducing emissions of this gas generated by human activity by 30% by the end of the decade.
New advanced technologies and satellites offer clearer images of these emissions, increasing global knowledge about the sources of emissions.
The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. The HPD is solely responsible for the content.