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Methane emissions reduction from oil and gas in North America- a proposed policy framework

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February 12, 2018  read full ScienceDaily article here

Atmospheric methane concentrations continue to increase globally, despite a pledge in 2016 from the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to reduce methane emissions from each country’s oil and gas sector. Additionally, the trilateral methane pledge faces more challenges as the Trump Administration seeks to reverse federal methane research and control efforts.

….The researchers suggest that estimating emissions consistently across U.S. jurisdictions in support of a robust baseline will help the North American countries to achieve the goal by 2025, if coupled with science-based, economically sound policies to minimize methane leakage.

“It is critical — for both the development of the sector and the environment — that decision-makers in government and industry rely not only on politics and economics, but also scientific evidence,” Dr. Jordaan said. “We have developed a coherent framework that integrates science and policy to help decision-makers to do just that, in support of both economic and environmental goals.”

….Konschnik noted that the climate benefits of using natural gas rather than coal to generate electricity evaporate if methane leakage across the natural gas value chain is too high….


Kate Konschnik, Sarah Marie Jordaan. Reducing fugitive methane emissions from the North American oil and gas sector: a proposed science-policy framework. Climate Policy, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2018.1427538

ABSTRACT: The shale gas boom in the United States spurred a shift in electricity generation from coal to natural gas. Natural gas combined cycle units emit half of the CO2 to produce the same energy as a coal unit; therefore, the market trend is credited for a reduction in GHG emissions from the US power sector. However, methane that escapes the natural gas supply chain may undercut these relative climate benefits.

In 2016, Canada, the United States and Mexico pledged to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector 40–45% from 2012 levels by 2025. This article reviews the science-policy landscape of methane measurement and mitigation relevant for meeting this pledge, including changes in US policy following the 2016 presidential election. Considerable policy incoherence exists in all three countries. Reliable inventories remain elusive; despite government and private sector research efforts, the magnitude of methane emissions remains in dispute. Meanwhile, mitigation efforts vary significantly. A framework that integrates science and policy would enable actors to more effectively inform, leverage and pursue advances in methane measurement and mitigation. The framework is applied to North America, but could apply to other geographic contexts.

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