Energy sector methane emissions 70% higher than declared: IEA

Paris, Feb 23 (EFE).- Methane emissions generated by the energy sector, mainly during fossil fuel operations, are 70 percent higher than the official figures declared by countries, the global energy watchdog said on Wednesday, calling for an end to this wastage for environmental and economic reasons.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that has been responsible for around 30 percent of the increase in global temperature since the Industrial Revolution and, since it dissipates much faster than carbon dioxide (CO2), ”cutting methane emissions would have a rapid effect on limiting global warming,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report published on Wednesday.

“If all methane leaks from fossil fuel operations in 2021 had been captured and sold, then natural gas markets would have been supplied with an additional 180 billion cubic meters of natural gas,” the IEA explained.

That would be equivalent to all the gas used to generate electricity in Europe and “more than enough to ease today’s market tightness,” it added.

“At today’s elevated natural gas prices, nearly all of the methane emissions from oil and gas operations worldwide could be avoided at no net cost,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

The authors of the study point out that if all the oil and gas producing countries limited emissions to the levels produced by Norway – the lowest worldwide – global methane emissions would fall by more than 90 percent.

In 2021, significant emissions were confirmed in Texas and parts of Central Asia, with Turkmenistan alone accounting for one-third of large emissions events seen by satellites during the year, according to the report.

But the IEA points out that satellites do not offer a comprehensive picture as they do not provide measurements over equatorial regions or northern areas thereby leaving Russia’s main oil and gas producing areas off the radar.

After the historical collapse in the consumption and production of hydrocarbons in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, methane emissions generated by the energy sector in 2021 rose by just under 5 percent, which did not bring them back to their 2019 levels.

That growth was less than the increase in the overall use of energy, which, according to the IEA indicate that “some efforts to limit emissions may already be paying off.”.

During the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, more than 110 countries pledged to cut methane emissions from human activities – including agriculture, the energy sector and other sources – by 30 percent by 2030. EFE


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