Big Question About Industry’s Newest Climate EffortEurope’s largest oil companies are reportedly working together on a policy strategy leading up to this year’s international climate talks in Paris. It’s nice to hear that some of the biggest players in the global oil and gas industry want to engage in solutions, but it remains to be seen if they will take the action needed to effectively tackle some of our most immediate climate threats – or to seize a major untapped opportunity.
That opportunity is methane. The highly potent greenhouse gas that’s been largely ignored until recently represents a solution for making real and immediate progress to slow warming. So will the group of oil companies sign on to tackle methane as a big part of its strategy, or are they going to ignore it?
Methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, has over 80 times the warming power of CO2 and is responsible for 25 percent of the warming we are feeling today. That means tackling methane is an essential piece of the puzzle in making a real impact on greenhouse emissions.
A recent report by the Rhodium Group found that current global methane losses from oil and gas would be the seventh largest gas producing country, nearly equal Norway’s total 2012 production output, and packing the short-term global warming punch equivalent to about 40 percent of total CO2 emissions from global coal combustion. From an economic standpoint, these emissions account for 3.5 Trillion cubic feet of lost natural gas, and $30 billon of lost revenue. Without action, these methane emissions will increase more than 20 percent by 2030.