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  23 Feb 2022, 11:43

Energy sector methane emissions underreported: report

PARIS, Feb 23, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - The energy sector's overall emissions of
methane are massively underreported, the IEA said Tuesday as it promoted cuts
to the most potent greenhouse gas as a quick way to make a major impact on
global warming.

     The International Energy Agency said its latest annual Global Methane
Tracker had found that emissions by the energy sector were about 70 percent
higher than official government figures.

     It said this showed the need for greater transparency as well as
"stronger policy action to drive down emissions of this potent greenhouse
gas," responsible for some 30 percent of the rise in global temperatures
since the Industrial Revolution.

     While methane dissipates faster than carbon dioxide, it has a much more
powerful warming effect in the atmosphere.

     Humans are responsible for about 60 percent of methane emissions, and
cutting these could have a quick and major impact.

     "Cutting global methane emissions from human activities by 30 percent by
the end of this decade would have the same effect on global warming by 2050
as shifting the entire transport sector to net zero CO2 emissions," IEA chief
Fatih Birol said.

     The tracker, which for the first time includes country-by-country
emissions from coal mines and bioenergy, showed methane emissions from the
energy sector grew by just under five percent last year.

     The IEA logged "significant emissions" in Texas and parts of Central
Asia, with Turkmenistan alone responsible for one-third of "large emissions
events" logged by satellites last year.

     - 30-percent cut target -

     The energy industry is a major source of methane emissions from leaks
and operations. Many older oil wells flare off unwanted methane -- which is
essentially natural gas used to heat homes -- as building infrastructure may
have originally cost too much.

     But with gas prices soaring, the costs of investments to capture methane
and reduce leaks will quickly pay for itself, and would help reduce tight
supplies.

     Had all methane leaks from fossil fuel operations in 2021 been captured
and sold, natural gas markets would have been supplied with an additional 180
billion cubic metres of natural gas... equivalent to all the gas used in
Europe's power sector and more than enough to ease today's market tightness,"
the report found.

     At last year's COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, participants
signed a Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by
2030.

     But of the five countries with the largest methane emissions from their
energy sectors -- China, Russia, the United States, Iran and India, the IEA
noted only the United States is currently a signatory.

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