Tackling methane emissions is vital if natural gas – increasingly decarbonized over time – is to play its fullest role in the energy transition. But to do that, we need to tackle methane emissions fast, and regulations can help.
Why methane reduction matters
Methane currently accounts for around one-fifth of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions on a like-for-like basis. It has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO₂), but a greater near-term warming potential. In fact, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of CO₂ over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere.
But because of methane’s shorter lifetime in the air, reducing new methane emissions could dramatically reduce the pace of warming. So curbing methane emissions from oil and gas can have incredible near-term impacts — both on climate warming and on the world’s ability to meet net zero by 2050 or sooner. Methane is the primary component in natural gas and that’s why we’re in action to minimize methane emissions at our sites.
Increased measurement is key to better reporting and planning targeted interventions — and assessing their impact. And we hope that by sharing our data, we can help others improve their methane emission reduction efforts, too.
However, voluntary initiatives like ours will not be enough to effectively minimize methane emissions across the sector. Regulation has a clear role to play. It’s a fair way to drive all companies to prioritize methane abatement.
Flaring is one of the main sources of methane for our sector. In 2021, we announced our aim to achieve zero routine flaring by 2025 for our US onshore operations. And, in 2020, bp and Shell submitted comments to the Texas Railroad Commission supporting an ambition of zero routine flaring in Texas. We continue to focus on flare reduction activity and to support the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, which brings together stakeholders to work together to eliminate routine flaring from operated oil assets by 2030.
Even as we expand our methane advocacy work, bp isn’t waiting for regulation to reduce emissions from our operations. Tackling methane is front and center in our near-term actions that are crucial to our net zero transformation.