Tackling methane emissions is just as important as carbon emissions in the battle against climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said in a new report.
It is calling for energy companies and governments to reduce methane emissions from fossil fuel operations, particularly oil and gas, to help mitigate near-term climate change.
The report reveals that methane is responsible for 30% of the global rise in temperatures to date and it requires the same level of attention as carbon in its impacts on global warming.
It states that fossil fuel operations emitted around 120 million tonnes of methane in 2020, with most of these being leakage along the production and supply chain that operators do not capture or avert.
The IEA claims that 70% of current emissions from oil and gas operations are feasible to prevent and 45% could by avoided at no net cost, as the value of the captured gas is more than the cost of avoiding it in the first place.
For net zero emissions by 2050 to be a possibility, the IEA estimates that methane emissions from fossil fuel operations must fall by 75% between 2020 and 2030.
It is supporting the Global Methane Pledge from the United Nations, which calls for a 30% reduction in global methane emissions from human activity by the end of the decade.
Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said: “At a time when we are constantly being reminded of the damaging effects of climate change, it is inexcusable that massive amounts of methane continue to be allowed to just seep into the air from fossil fuel operations.
“These emissions are avoidable; the solutions are proven and even profitable in many cases. And the benefits in terms of avoided near-term warming are huge.”