Energy Exchange

Now more than ever, it’s time for strong EU standards on methane emissions

As European Union leaders begin the transition from COVID-19 rescue to economic recovery, the need to build back better is taking center stage. Already, national governments representing over 65% of the EU’s population have insisted that leaders stick with the European Green Deal. Their resolve underscores the importance of leadership, resilience and science-based decision making in the face of the gravest health emergency of our time.

These national governments know that the EGD will help usher in a thriving, sustainable European economy that creates good jobs for working people. And they understand the tragic lesson of the COVID-19 crisis: that all nations must heed scientific warnings about public health and security. The scientific community’s clarion call on climate change, and the role of methane pollution in driving near-term warning, should be at the top of the agenda.

For the oil and gas industry, this means that a key component of the post-COVID recovery is the establishment of stringent standards to certify very low methane emissions for all gas used in the EU. Without such standards, the case for “cleaner-burning” natural gas evaporates; over the first 20 years, methane is 80 times more potent than CO2 in driving planetary warming. That’s why the European Commission’s forthcoming methane proposal presents a window that energy companies must take — and an ESG opportunity that investors cannot afford to ignore.

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Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Europe, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

The defining decade for oil and gas in the energy transition

Business as usual for the oil and gas industry is over. Investor confidence is flagging just as the talent pool shrinks and competition from cleaner energy sources intensifies. Pressure on companies to respond to the climate crisis to maintain their future viability has never been higher.

BP’s recent “net-zero” announcement is a case in point. And though time will tell whether BP delivers on its ambition, CEO Bernard Looney deserves credit for putting his company on the right path. It’s critically important — for the planet and the entire industry — that other energy companies meet or beat the mark of BP’s ambition, and that all turn their sights next to implementation.

As BP’s new plan changes the conversation in boardrooms around the world, energy companies that are serious about performing while transforming will need to step up in four areas. Here’s what to watch for as industry’s defining decade begins.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

The next major ESG opportunity for investors in Europe

In recent years, institutional investors have demonstrated their formidable influence, as companies respond to investor environmental, social and governance demands and governments take note of forceful investor calls to action. Europe’s leading investors have been especially active, stepping to the vanguard to address the climate crisis with a sense of urgency and injection of ambition.

As Europe pursues its bold “Green Deal,” European investors have a powerful chance to help address a climate blind spot and policy vacuum to ensure worthy climate goals are not derailed. Investors can do so in a way that generates shareholder value while mitigating one of the largest near-term sources of climate risk. The opportunity lies in addressing methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry, which emits more than 75 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas every year.

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Posted in Europe, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

New companies oppose methane rollbacks but industry divide remains

The stakes are high for businesses to support strengthened Environmental Protection Agency methane regulations.

While there are multiple pathways to achieve a net zero carbon emissions future by 2050 in the U.S., it’s clear that the oil and gas industry can and must virtually eliminate methane emissions. Not only is methane control an environmental priority, it is the most immediate and cost-effective decarbonization option for natural gas. Action on methane is a litmus test of industry’s ability to make necessary changes, and build the muscle to support responsible public policy that cuts emissions and stimulates innovation.

The late November close of the comment period on EPA’s proposal to eliminate methane regulation and exempt large segments of industry from pollution control requirements shows a growing industry divide. A review of industry filings to EPA reveals three game changers for the politics and policy of federal methane regulation.

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Posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

2019 grades are in: OGCI companies get an “incomplete” for climate action

Earlier this week, the head of EDF’s energy program, Mark Brownstein, asked whether the oil and gas industry was serious about climate and proposed that Monday’s annual CEO meeting of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative companies, which includes BP, Exxon, Shell and others, could provide an answer.

I attended the meeting and listened for a real plan to transition to a low carbon economy. Though there were some bright spots, it was clear that however serious the industry is about climate, it’s not serious enough. If OGCI companies, individually and collectively, are going to demonstrate that industry can be part of the climate solution at the necessary pace and scale, 2020 is going to have to be a big year.

On the positive side, there is widespread agreement among OCGI members that substantial changes must be made to the energy system to reduce emissions. There were also encouraging reports about advances in methane monitoring and stated ambition to accelerate carbon removal technology, whether from the energy system or the atmosphere.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Four ways EPA methane rollbacks threaten American natural gas

At the behest of the American Petroleum Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to eliminate nationwide limits on methane pollution, sending America’s natural gas industry backwards to the days of uncontrolled emissions. This dangerous proposal threatens the climate, the communities living near oil and gas development and the increasingly vulnerable status of American natural gas in a transition to a net-zero carbon emission economy.

Any business depends on four fundamentals to operate successfully: demand from customers, acceptance from society at large, financial capital to invest and talent to do the work. America’s natural gas industry is no different.

Eliminating methane standards would increase risk to each part of this foundation, making this proposed rollback a prime opportunity for risk-conscious executives and investors to speak out this fall.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed