Sept. 24–A newly expanded climate initiative of the largest energy companies worldwide pledged Monday to reduce its methane emissions by more than 20 percent by 2025.
The announcement comes days after U.S. companies Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative that was launched four years ago by the biggest European energy firms. At the time, the American companies refused to sign on.
The expanded 13-company initiative said Monday it would cut its emissions of methane — the primary component of natural gas — from 0.32 percent in 2017 to at least 0.25 percent by 2025 with a goal of achieving 0.20 percent.
Several energy supermajors in recent years have begun a pivot away from crude oil and toward more cleaner-burning natural gas.
Natural gas produces far less carbon dioxide than coal and oil and is considered a bridge fuel that the world can rely on until renewable energy sources like wind and solar power become more widespread and affordable. But methane emissions — from gas wells to pipeline leaks — have long been considered the Achilles’ heel of natural gas. Methane has 80 times the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, although its impacts don’t last as long in the atmosphere.
“Our aim is to work towards near-zero methane emissions from the full gas value chain in support of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the 13 companies stated. “We have worked to make our ambition concrete, actionable and measurable, helping to ensure that natural gas can realize its full potential in a low-emissions future.”
Achieving the 0.25 percent goal would reduce global methane emissions by 350,000 metric tons a year.
The initiative pledges to support the recent Paris climate accord and with an aim toward eliminating all routine methane flaring by 2030.
Just last week, Royal Dutch Shell, one of the founding members of the initiative, said it would achieve the more ambitious 0.20 percent emissions goal by 2025.
The news comes after a study this summer found that annual methane emission rates from energy companies are about 60 percent more than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports.
The oil and gas sector is the largest source of U.S. methane emissions, according to the Energy Department. Surging gas production from shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing, called fracking, has increased methane emissions through much of the past 10 to 15 years.
Apart from Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Occidental, the other member companies are the United Kingdom’s BP, Norway’sEquinor, Italy’s Eni, France’s Total, Spain’sRepsol, China’s CNPC, Brazil’sPetrobras, Mexico’s Pemex and Saudi Arabia’sSaudi Aramco.
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