Methane emissions: 135 million tonnes for the energy industry
Global Methane Tracker 2023 updated on methane emissions
Despite the energy crisis, methane emissions released by the fossil fuel industry have not suffered the desired decline. Reductions have been recorded but are too small and slow to make a significant contribution to the climate issue. Yet, intervening at this level is one of the cheapest and easiest solutions to limit global warming in the short term. The International Energy Agency IEA recalls this today by publishing the new estimates of the Global Methane Tracker 2023. What is it? The online tool that monitors the emissions of oil operations (and not only), also incorporates data from scientific literature, measurement campaigns, and satellites.
A 135 million tonne bankruptcy
The new update shows a clear picture: in 2022, methane (CH4) emissions released into the atmosphere by the energy industry reached 135 million tons, a value just below that of 2019. And slightly more than in 2021.
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In detail, the activities related to coal, oil and natural gas are each responsible for about 40 million tons of emissions and almost 5 million losses related to end-use equipment. “The explosion of the Nord Stream pipeline last year released a huge amount of methane into the atmosphere,” explained Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA. “But normal oil and gas operations around the world release every day the same amount of methane as the Nord Stream explosion”. A further EUR 10 million comes from the incomplete combustion of bioenergy.
From methane leaks enough gas to replace all imports from Russia
Yet the fossil sector could cut them by 75% already today, using existing technologies, spending less than 3% of the income accrued in 2022. “There is no excuse,” Birol said. Stopping all flaring and non-emergency venting is the most powerful measure countries can take to curb methane emissions. Of the 260 billion cubic meters of CH4 released into the atmosphere each year as a result of these operations, at least three quarters could be stored and returned to the market. The methane thus captured would amount to more than the total annual imports of gas from EU Russia before the invasion of Ukraine.