Getting a clearer picture of global methane emissions

In the case of carbon dioxide (CO2), it seems almost certain that global emissions will fall this year because of the global slump in economic output, transport activity and fossil-fuel combustion caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a similar drop in methane emissions from oil and gas cannot be taken for granted, even if oil and gas consumption falls.
For example, a decline in revenues from oil and gas operations could mean that companies pay less attention to efforts to tackle methane emissions. Low natural gas prices may lead to increases in flaring or venting, and regulatory oversight of oil and gas operations could be scaled back. However, as our newly updated Methane Tracker shows, methane leaks are not an inevitable part of today’s oil and gas business. They can be reduced cost-effectively – and this has to happen if the world is to address climate change.

In a new analysis, we examine four key areas in the measurement of methane emissions and efforts to reduce them, including how satellites and other forms of airborne monitoring are helping provide a better picture of the scale and location of methane leaks.

International Energy Agency