Methane: COP26

Over the last week, methane has firmly taken centre stage. We’ve seen the launch of the International Methane Emissions Observatory, the Global Methane Pledge, a new action plan from the US, lots of leaders & companies promising to do the right thing. The level of ambition is fantastic and could lead to environmental and economic benefits across the world.

But challenges remain.

Pledges, promises, and statistics

How many summit pledges are actually upheld? The Paris Agreement was momentous, but even the much-heralded NDC’s have been underwhelming. The Global Methane Pledge spearheaded by the US and EU is admirable, and if the 30% reduction in methane emissions is achieved the world will benefit immeasurably. But, its voluntary nature potential ‘lack of teeth’ has a risk of action that is lukewarm at best.

I’m also delighted that the International Methane Emissions Observatory has been established. Year on year data, greater transparency, and commercial independence are critical to tackling methane intensity, but this must run in parallel with day-to-day action at facilities across the world that reduce methane intensity, fix leaks, and change attitudes. 

The missing ingredient – the one thing we haven’t seen over the last week is how these global initiatives will intersect with the current market. This isn’t about profit making, rather how, at the asset, facility and basin level change will be delivered that is transparent to buyers and sellers when gas is traded in the markets.

Without getting that right, these ambitious pledges for the oil and gas sector will remain unfulfilled. Over the next few years, we need a combination of global oversight and hands-on asset level action to make these pledges become worth the paper they’re written on.

MiQ offers the “third way” between regulation and voluntary company action – differentiating producers based on their methane emissions performance and incentivising businesses to improve. Our approach, underpinned by our Standard, is thorough, using independent, established, and trusted auditors with in-depth expertise. We are already working with ExxonMobil, Chesapeake, EQT and Comstock Resources.

Week one of COP26 is an important milestone in the fight against methane, but it’s just one step on a very long journey. We’ve heard a lot about ‘the methane moment’, but moments come and go. We need a methane mission – come join ours.