Last week’s White House announcement marked an important step in the march toward global climate action. The U.S.-Nordic Leader Summit Joint Statement, issued by the United States, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, underscored the need for a broad climate strategy, one that prioritizes reductions in both long- and short-lived climate pollutants across key industry sectors.
In addition to addressing renewable energy, HCFs, international aviation emissions and deforestation, the statement included a commitment for each country to develop a national plan to reduce emissions of methane, a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas. This is critical, given a wave of scientific data that highlights the need to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas supply chain. The agreement is another sign that methane is starting to get the international attention it deserves, as reducing oil and gas methane is one of the most impactful and cost-effective actions we can take to slow the current rate of warming. Read More
Also posted in General, Methane
To get anything accomplished, you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. One unsung story buried in last week’s release of EPA’s new source methane rules may make good options even better – driving innovation and offering industry more options to meet the methane challenge.
The new rules target a pervasive problem: methane – the primary component of natural gas – leaking throughout the oil and gas value chain. Methane emissions represent a waste of saleable resources, a reputational risk, and a contributor to both poor local air quality and climate change.
Under the EPA’s framework, oil and gas operators must take steps to minimize emissions from new and modified sources – from finding and fixing equipment leaks to swapping out equipment to reduce methane vented from pneumatic controllers and pumps,. Companies in Colorado working to comply with the state’s similar rule have reported that putting similar measures in place are cost-effective, even generating positive returns from selling the captured gas.
But what should an agency do when the solutions available now are reasonable but not perfect? Existing strategies don’t monitor all the time—only a few days a year. So leaks and malfunctions can be missed, or leak for months before they are fixed. Read More
By Ilissa Ocko and Steven Hamburg
A new study published in Nature Climate Change has caused some misunderstanding about the role short-lived climate pollutants like methane play in climate action, with some going as far as to argue that people are placing too much emphasis on methane. In fact, the analysis does far less to disrupt current thinking than these observers have suggested.
The study led by Myles Allen of the University of Oxford with five colleagues from around the globe is entirely consistent with the substantive scientific view that our best chance to limit warming and reduce its damages is to aggressively reduce emissions of both long-lived (i.e. carbon dioxide) and short-lived (i.e. methane) climate pollutants simultaneously, in order to reduce both the magnitude and the rate of warming.
The study focuses only on the first of these two metrics of climate change, the long term magnitude, based on the authors’ stated assumption that the primary goal of climate policy is to limit “peak” warming (consistent with the Paris Agreement to keep global average temperature change well below 2ºC). Because carbon dioxide determines peak warming, the study is an important reminder that stabilizing climate requires progressive reductions of CO2 and other long-lived climate pollutants. Read More
A massive wave of market and societal forces is changing the oil and gas industry. Low commodity prices are driving out weaker players with excessive debt, and forcing those that remain to become leaner and more efficient. As climate change effects worsen and countries move to fulfill their commitments from the Paris climate agreement, public scrutiny of oil and natural gas and their impacts only intensifies.
The question is not will industry change to meet these challenges — it’s how. It’s about what opportunities can propel industry to come back stronger out of the depths of the commodity slide, as a leaner, cleaner industry standing on firm ground that it can play a meaningful role as societies work to transition to lower-carbon economies.
While natural gas remains a fact of life, and switching from coal to natural gas has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, scientific research has demonstrated that potent methane emissions from the oil and gas system are undermining that climate benefit. The latest U.S. inventory shows over 9 million metric tons of oil and gas methane emissions, packing the same climate impact over a 20 year timeframe as over 200 coal-fired power plants. That’s a lot of methane no matter how you slice it. Read More
Year two of the California legislative cycle usually yields some bold policy ideas – and this year it looks like rethinking California’s relationship with methane and natural gas is on track to do just that.
Given the fresh memories of the major methane pollution event at Aliso Canyon, the 20-plus bills introduced on the topic this legislative session – vastly more than in past years – aren’t surprising in the least. Moreover, 2016 could have a monumental effect on the methane and natural gas picture in the state for years to come.
What is responsible for this sudden increase in efforts to change California’s relationship with methane and natural gas.
The science is clear
First, the science is clear, as methane, the primary component of natural gas, is responsible for about 25% of the manmade climate change we’re experiencing today. With temperature records being broken nearly daily (2015 was the hottest year on record, and February 2016 was the hottest month ever globally), the cat is out of the bag – it’s past time to focus on methane.
The legislative pump is primed
California started down the path of finding solutions to address methane emissions years ago with a series of bills and policy actions, and in many ways the 2016 bill package doubles down on that progress. Read More
From articles in top media, to diverse state leaders taking action, there has been a noticeable uptick in public attention on the need for methane pollution limits on the oil and gas industry over the past few months.
It’s great to see growing national and international interest being brought to an issue that was deserving of attention many years ago. But we need to move faster to rein in this problem.
Why the urgency? Here are four reasons:
- Americans across the country are seeing the impact of an uncontrolled oil and gas industry on their air quality.