Efforts to cut methane emissions in 2022 have not been enough to meet the 7% annual reduction targets needed to meet Global Methane Pledge objectives, according to climate data company Kayrros.
As the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, gets underway at Sharm El Sheikh, satellite data analysis from Kayrros shows the number of large global super-emitters, responsible for 10% of global emissions, has not significantly fallen in 2022, leaving Global Methane Pledge ambitions out of reach.
The pledge, agreed by over 100 countries at COP26 last year, holds signatories to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. However, Kayrros does not see any notable progress except in Australia, while emissions from Algeria’s Hassi R’Mel basin have increased significantly through 2022.
Methane has 80 times the global heating potential of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after reaching the atmosphere.
Antoine Rostand, Co-Founder and President of Kayrros, said: “We are still a way off the commitments made to cutting methane emissions. Limited regulation and emissions controls in some parts of the world are holding back real progress, even as the climate crisis moves to the top of the news agenda.
“More must also be done to ensure developed nations do not export their emissions elsewhere, swapping domestic production and waste management for cheap alternatives abroad.”
Improving satellite imaging technology has allowed for a granular understanding of these problems and better reporting of risk, he added.
“This supports the industry in making more informed decisions, coupled with policy updates, notably with the US Inflation Reduction Act and changes in key economies, to create the regulatory and financial incentives to accelerate abatement measures,” he said.
“There is hope. Based on our analysis, it is entirely achievable that with the right policy and incentives, we could eliminate all serious emitters and even exceed the Global Methane Pledge commitments by 2030. The Inflation Reduction Act will go a way to providing these incentives for businesses to modernise infrastructure and improve practices. Better and more transparent data will be needed at every turn to fully understand and respond appropriately to the challenges ahead.”
Super-emitters — facilities, equipment, and other infrastructure that account for around 10% of all energy-related emissions — are considered a major obstacle to tackling the climate crisis due to the way the gas traps heat in the atmosphere.
The rate at which super-emitters emit methane remains high, especially in the developing world, which may be more prone to leaky gas infrastructure and limited emission controls for landfills.
McKinsey notes that methane emissions have risen by about 25% in the past 20 years and says the current trajectory is far off the 2 percent annual decline that would be required to meet the 1.5°C or 2°C warming objectives of the Paris Agreement.
But it also has grounds for optimism, saying five key industries – including oil and gas – could reduce global annual methane emissions by 20% by 2030 and 46% by 2050.
While methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) have similar warming effects, they are contrasting in several aspects. Methane stays in the atmosphere for just a decade, compared with the centuries-long persistence of CO2, but traps many times more heat.
The industry is stepping up efforts to tackle the problem. Last week NextEra Energy Resources and Coffee County, Alabama, announced plans to build the first landfill renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility in the state of Alabama.
The project will be located at a landfill owned and operated by Coffee County and interconnect with a pipeline owned by Southeast Gas, the leading gas utility in the region. All of the gas from the project will be sold to Southeast Gas under a long-term contract.
Both companies will work to upgrade the existing landfill gas collection system and build a new RNG production facility that will capture and convert 1,100 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill methane gas per year to RNG. On an annual basis, the project is expected to capture over 16,500 metric tonnes of landfill methane.
As energy prices continue to soar across Europe, biomethane could – once scaled-up – cover 30-40% of EU gas demand at considerably lower cost, according to a report earlier this year from the European Biogas Association (click here).
COP27 will host a series of thematic days in the next two weeks to highlight key climate change challenges, and the conference is attracting world leaders and more than 50,000 attendees.