Global coalition pledges to cut emissions in oil and gas sector

More than a dozen Ministers from countries around the world have released a statement calling for faster action in reducing venting, leakage, and flaring of natural gas from oil and gas operations.

The participating countries, which include the UK, the US and Australia, are members of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), launched in February 2012 by the UN Environment Programme.

The newly-formed coalition specifically aims to work with leading oil and gas companies to reduce global methane and black carbon emissions.

It is estimated that more than 8% of total worldwide natural gas production is lost annually to venting, leakage, and flaring.

These activities result in the loss of between $27bn to $63bn and almost two gigatons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions per year, more than 80% of which are methane emissions.

This makes oil and gas operations the second-largest source of global anthropogenic methane emissions behind agriculture.

Flaring also releases substantial amounts of black carbon, which is particularly harmful to human health and areas like the Arctic. In addition, a study co-led by the University of Leeds this month, found that the effect of black carbon on global warming could be about twice as much as previous estimates had suggested. (link)

The CCAC aims to help companies accelerate and expand voluntary emission reductions where there are cost-effective opportunities to do so, and to showcase progress by companies that are already taking significant action.

Secretary of State Edward Davey welcomed the voluntary commitment by companies and countries to reduce venting, leakage, and flaring of natural gas and he urged others in the oil and gas sectors to follow suit.

The CCAC says that engagement with interested oil and gas companies has begun and will accelerate over the coming months.

Davey said: “The UK is fully supportive of all or any action to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants which are a crucial complement to action on carbon dioxide and other pollutants. We are therefore fully committed to maximising the great potential of the CCAC to achieve additional emissions reductions.”

However, Davey claimed the most cost effective way to limit the global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels was through an international, legally binding agreement.

Conor McGlone

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