Friday Facts: Reducing and Regulating Methane Emissions from Global Gas

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Reducing Methane Emissions from Global Gas
Ben Cahill, CSIS, May 2, 2022

Cutting methane emissions from oil and gas will help slow the pace of global warming, and methane is firmly on the international climate agenda. But how will progress on methane rules and regulations spread beyond Europe and North America, especially to regions where state utilities and national oil companies (NOCs) play a prominent role? And how can global gas trade—especially the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector—evolve in ways that lower methane emissions? This report outlines recent global, national, and sub-national efforts to curtail methane emissions from oil and gas. It analyzes how demand for cleaner, or “differentiated,” gas might develop, delving into the drivers for buyers and others in the gas ecosystem. It concludes with policy recommendations and suggested engagement strategies with global gas players.


Executive Summary

• Because methane is a potent but short-lived climate pollutant, cutting

methane emissions is one of the most powerful levers to slow the pace of

global warming in the next decade.

• Proposed rules and legislation in the United States and the European Union

would require oil and gas companies to enhance their methane monitoring,

address leaks, and limit venting and flaring.

• Methane detection technology is rapidly improving, with an array of ground based detection, drone- and airplane-based surveys, and satellite technology

able to pinpoint methane emissions.

• Rapid technological developments make it challenging to design regulations

that encourage operators to adopt the best possible detection technology

without being overly prescriptive.

• Most action on reducing methane emissions will take place on the supply

side, but it is important to analyze how demand for “differentiated” or cleaner

gas will develop.