The Natural Gas Industry Methane Emissions Challenge

October 19, 2017

The International Gas Union (IGU) supports urgent and increased efforts towards climate change mitigation, consistent with the Paris Agreement and its goal to limit the global temperature increase to below 2oC from pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Several nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement include a focus on reducing methane emissions, amongst other measures.1 The natural gas industry has had a long history of mitigating methane emissions.

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and reductions of methane emissions are important for operational efficiency, safety, and environmental excellence. The IGU supports prudent, outcome-driven policy regimes for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Effective policies to minimize anthropogenic methane emissions are those that take balanced approaches, consistently addressing all contributing sources of methane emissions across the economy.

The IGU recommends that as governments formulate policies for reducing methane emissions, they:

• Commit to a balanced GHG reduction strategy, which covers long and short-lived pollutants. Avoid disproportionate emphasis on short-lived pollutants, like methane, to secure the long-term target of meeting CO2 reductions and 2oC temperature increase limit.

• When regulation is deemed necessary, choose a performance-based approach over compliance-based to ensure policies are economically efficient – balancing regulation with market-based mechanisms. This means that policies should seek to maximize the value of reductions, by allowing sufficient flexibility for the industry to identify opportunities for investment to achieve the highest reductions.

• Support technology development and deployment to accelerate innovation in methane detection and measurement. There has been much progress in the development of next-generation technologies, some of which could become game changers; however, these still need to become commercially viable. In order to accelerate the pace of innovation and de-risk new technology, governments need to partner with industry and fund essential research and development.