Bloomberg Philanthropies, UN Environment Programme, Environmental Defense Fund, International Energy Agency, and RMI Launch Groundbreaking Transparency and Accountability Measure For Methane Emissions

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New research shows that industry pledges announced at COP28 and broader action on methane could slash emissions equal to 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide and make a 1.5C global climate target more achievable

Dubai, U.A.E. (December 2, 2023) – Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the International Energy Agency (IEA), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) through the International Methane Emission Observatory (IMEO), and RMI, founded as Rocky Mountain Institute, announced a new effort to embed transparency and accountability in global efforts to reduce methane from the oil and gas sector. This collaboration is part of a new, $40 million commitment by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help slash methane emissions by providing the data, policy and country-level engagement to avoid what new research says could be the equivalent of 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2030 – an essential component to slow our approach to 1.5C and reduce a global temperature overshoot.

“Methane emissions need to be drastically cut within this decade or we risk accelerating the most devastating impacts of climate change,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies. “One of the most effective ways to reduce methane is through accurate data, transparency, and accountability. This new effort will bring together public and private sector leaders to ensure public commitments to tackling methane are followed through on.”

The new effort will include providing the transparency and accountability frameworks to track progress made by signatories to the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC) – a new set of emissions-reduction principles announced at COP28 by the oil and gas sector. The commitments made by the global oil and gas industry as part of the Charter, if fully implemented, would have about the same impact on the global temperature rise in 2050 as immediately cutting emissions from every single car on the road today. But this will only happen if all oil and gas companies follow through on promises made in the Charter and rely on careful monitoring and tracking.

“Methane reductions are necessary to keep us on track for 1.5°C, so it is welcome to see the industry promising action. However, transparency is going to be critical because trust is low,” said Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director. “UNEP, with its International Methane Emissions Observatory, is working with government and industry to ensure accountability including through initiatives such as the Methane Alert and Response System. My thanks to the Bloomberg Philanthropies for the additional support for this work.”

“This new pledge from the oil companies to reduce their methane emissions by 80 to 90% has the potential to be the most impactful climate action in my more than 30 year career. It could lower the planet’s temperature and reduce cataclysmic storms from what we will otherwise experience in the next decade,” said Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund. “Thanks to Mike Bloomberg the IEA, IMEO and EDF are coming together to hold the industry accountable for the real results our planet desperately needs.”

“The oil and gas industry has an urgent responsibility to be part of the solution on climate change – and taking concrete action to reduce emissions from their operations is a crucial first step,” said Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency Executive Director. “Cutting methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective options to limit global warming in the near-term. We look forward to tracking efforts by oil and gas producers to deliver on their commitments while encouraging even greater ambition to keep our climate goals within reach.”

The COP28 Presidency launched the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC) during the World Leaders’ Summit at COP28, with 50 companies committing to set interim targets that would reduce methane emissions to 0.2% of oil and natural gas production by 2030 and to end routine flaring. EDF, UNEP’s IMEO, and the IEA – known for their deep scientific, data analysis, and climate expertise – will help ensure accountability and transparency for the OGDC by tracking methane emissions using satellites and other tools and analyzing the data collected to monitor compliance with the pledge. 

The effort, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will focus the reduction of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector via three key areas of work: 

  1. Data and research to bolster accountability: A major barrier to progress has been the lack of comprehensive, continuous data on methane emissions – a necessary tool for companies to address leaks, and for governments to hold them accountable. Some oil companies have indicated that they have already achieved a 0.2% methane intensity target; all other companies should look to hit this same target, and all consumer and importing governments should rapidly phase out purchases of higher methane waste intensity fuels. Expanded tracking and data integration from EDF, IEA, UNEP’s IMEO and others will provide financial institutions, governmental ministries, commercial gas buyers, NGOs, and media the data and analysis needed to build solutions, craft policies, and hold companies accountable.
  1. Incentives to promote strong policies and market mechanisms: Using improved data and the momentum from country-level work, partners, including RMI, will engage with technical experts and advocates to push for stronger government regulation, such as tougher methane standards for buyers and policies around managing methane leaks. 
  1. Long-term country impact: National oil companies in emerging and developing economies are currently underestimating and therefore under-capturing their fugitive methane emissions, and they need support to build the required technical capacity to track and reduce their emissions. EDF, RMI, and others will foster partnerships with industry trade groups, NGOs, and international experts to provide technical assistance to help each country address their leaks. Support will include aiding project management and helping to build companies’ technical capacity to manage methane independently over time.

“Cutting methane from the oil and gas industry is one of the most immediate, cost-effective climate wins that we can achieve together in this decisive decade. Our analysis shows that leaks from pipelines, field operations, and flaring can put gas’s climate risk on par with coal’s,” said Jon Creyts, CEO, RMI. “Thanks to leadership from Mayor Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, our ability to detect these emissions is rapidly evolving, and solutions to significantly reduce this super-potent greenhouse gas across oil and gas operations can be accelerated immediately.”

This effort will combine transparency and accountability with cutting-edge data to make methane emissions from the oil and gas sector visible and quantifiable, engage emerging and developing economies to address methane leakage in domestic oil and gas production, and push for stronger government policies and regulations on methane purchase and trade policies around the world.

The data for this initiative will be provided by partner solutions such as EDF’s MethaneSAT, which will be launched next year. With the ability to detect pollution from millions of widespread sources, MethaneSAT will provide actionable data on smaller, diffuse emitters that are a major part of the methane problem. Other satellites, including Carbon Mapper, which can identify emissions at the facility level and GHGSAT, will be critical to this effort.

The announcement of this new transparency and accountability initiative comes as new analysis from the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the University of Maryland underscores the massive consequences of letting methane go unchecked, noting that the short-lived but potent greenhouse gas has 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Researchers at CGS found that reducing methane emissions is the single biggest deployable, practical, and affordable mitigation strategy available to reduce climate risk from 2025-2035. Rapid and ambitious methane reductions, which this research shows could eliminate the equivalent of 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2030 using a short-term metric, slows our approach to 1.5C, limits a prolonged global temperature overshoot, and decreases the risk of tipping point disruptions of sea level rise or oceanic temperatures.

The analysis finds that taking swift and immediate action to reduce methane emissions, much of which is driven by oil and gas operations, can slash global methane emissions by over 120 MtCH4 in 2030 from 2020 levels and will help achieve an ambitious global methane goal of 30% global methane emissions reductions by 2030 from 2020. 

National oil companies comprise 50% of global oil and gas production yet account for a disproportionate share of global methane emissions, and many of these companies lack the technical expertise and capacity that is required to implement existing solutions. By using data to identify methane leaks and implementing policies, incentives and solutions to prevent them at the source, companies can eliminate massive amounts of methane pollution that would otherwise contribute to global warming.

Mike’s latest commitment builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ decade-long track record of bringing data and transparency solutions to the fight against climate change.

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Media contact: Daphne Wang, daphne@bloomberg.org  

About EDF

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 30 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund

About IEA

The IEA was created in 1974 to help co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil. While oil security remains a key aspect of our work, the IEA has evolved and expanded significantly since its foundation.

Taking an all-fuels, all-technology approach, the IEA recommends policies that enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy. It examines the full spectrum issues including renewables, oil, gas and coal supply and demand, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, electricity systems and markets, access to energy, demand-side management, and much more.

Since 2015, the IEA has opened its doors to major emerging countries to expand its global impact, and deepen cooperation in energy security, data and statistics, energy policy analysis, energy efficiency, and the growing use of clean energy technologies. 

About RMI

RMI, founded in 1982 as Rocky Mountain Institute, is an independent nonprofit that transforms global energy systems through market-driven solutions to align with a 1.5°C future and secure a clean, prosperous, zero-carbon future for all. We work in the world’s most critical geographies and engage businesses, policymakers, communities, and NGOs to identify and scale energy system interventions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by 2030. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Oakland, California; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on LinkedIn.

About the UN Environment Programme 

The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. 

UNEP is at the forefront of methane emissions reduction in line with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2°C. UNEP’s work revolves around two pillars: data and policy. UNEP supports companies and governments across the globe to use its unique global database of empirically verified methane emissions to target strategic mitigation actions and support science-based policy options through the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO). UNEP also fosters high-level commitments through advocacy work and supports countries to implement measures that reduce methane emissions through the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). Both initiatives are core implementers of the Global Methane Pledge.   

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