EU, UNEP set afloat International Methane Emissions Observatory

At the G20 Summit, on the eve of the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, the UN ecosystem Programme (UNEP) with sustain from the European Union launched on October 31 the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) to excursion global action on reducing methane emissions fulfilling the Paris Agreement.

According to the European Commission, the IMEO will bring global reporting on methane emissions to an thoroughly different level, ensuring public transparency on anthropogenic methane emissions. IMEO will initially focus on methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector, and then expand to other major emitting sectors like agriculture and waste.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for at the minimum a quarter of the current global warming. The recently published UNEP-Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Global Methane Assessment states that zero or low net-cost reductions could almost halve anthropogenic methane emissions, while proven measures could cut 0.28 degrees Celsius from the forecasted rise in the planet’s average temperature by 2050.

IMEO will provide the method to prioritise actions and monitor commitments made by state actors in the Global Methane potential – a US and EU-led effort by over thirty countries to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030, the EU Commission said.

“Methane is one of the most dangerous gases for our climate. We urgently need to reduce methane emissions to keep our climate targets in reach,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “Better satellite monitoring is basic and the EU is proud to sustain the creation of the International Methane Emissions Observatory,” she additional.

Methane: over 80 times more potent than CO2

To stay on track for the Paris Agreement goal of limiting climate change to 1.5°C, the world needs to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that if the world is to unprotected to the 1.5°C temperature target, thorough methane emissions reductions must be achieved over the next decade, the EU Commission said.

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen reiterated IPCC calls for cutting methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry. “But this is not a get-out-of-jail free card: methane reductions must go hand in hand with actions to decarbonize the energy system to limit warming to 1.5°C, as called for in the Paris Agreement,” she said.

Methane released directly into the air is more than 80 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time horizon. However, as methane’s atmospheric lifespan is comparatively short – 10 to 12 years – actions to cut methane emissions can provide the most immediate reduction in the rate of warming, while also delivering air quality benefits.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson warned that methane has accounted for approximately 30% of global warming since pre-industrial times, and today its emissions are increasing faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s. “Existing systems do not allow us to determine precisely enough where these emissions happen across the globe and in what volumes. Once better data is obtainable, countries can take rapid and well-targeted action. In the EU, we will already propose pioneering legislation to cut methane emissions this year. This includes mandatory leak detection and repair and limiting venting and flaring,” Simson said.

The fossil fuel industry is responsible for one-third of anthropogenic emissions and is the sector with the highest possible for reductions. The wasted methane, the main part in natural gas, is a valuable source of energy that could be used to fuel strength plants or homes.

IMEO: an independent and trusted global entity

The Observatory will produce a global public dataset of empirically verified methane emissions – starting with the fossil fuel sector – at an increasing level of granularity and accuracy by integrating data principally from four flows: reporting from the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 (OGMP 2.0), oil and gas companies, direct measurement data from scientific studies, far away sensing data, and national inventories. This will allow IMEO to include companies and governments around the world to utilize this data to target strategic mitigation actions and sustain science-based policy options, the EU Commission said.

basic to this effort are data collected by OGMP 2.0 launched in November 2020 in the framework of the CCAC. OGMP 2.0, launched in November 2020 in the framework of the CCAC, is the only comprehensive, measurement-based reporting framework for the oil and gas sector, and its 74 member companies represent many of the world’s largest operators across the complete value chain, and explain over 30% of all oil and gas production.

In a report released to coincide with the set afloat, IMEO laid out its Theory of Change. At the heart of this theory  is the need for an independent and trusted entity to integrate these multiple supplies of heterogenous data into a logical and policy applicable dataset. The report also includes the examination of the first reports submitted by the company members of the OGMP 2.0. During this first year, most companies put meaningful efforts into reporting and outlined ambitious 2025 reduction targets. Out of the 55 companies that set targets, 30 meet or go beyond the recommended targets of 45% reduction or near-zero methane intensity, and 51 have submitted plans to enhance the accuracy of their data over  the next 3-5 years.

Hosted by UNEP, IMEO’s budget amounts to €100 million over five years. To continue its independence and credibility, it will receive no industry funding. Instead, IMEO will be thoroughly funded by governments and philanthropies, with chief resources provided by the European Commission as a founding member.

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