Independent body will measure global methane output

01 November 2021 | Muriel Cozier

‘…Once better data is available, countries can take swift action and well-targeted action.’

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with support from the European Union has used the G20 Summit, held in Rome, Italy, 30 – 31 October, to launch the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO). Tasked with improving the reporting accuracy and public transparency of ‘human-caused’ methane emissions, the IMEO will have a budget of €100 million over five years, receiving no industry funding so as to maintain its independence and credibility.

The IMEO will produce a global public dataset of empirically verified methane emissions, starting with the fossil fuel sector, by integrating data from four streams. These streams are: the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, direct measurement data from scientific studies, remote sensing data and national inventories. Backers say that this approach will allow the IMEO to engage companies and governments around the world, using the data to target strategic mitigation actions and support science-based policy options.

Following on from emissions in the fossil fuel sector, the IMEO will look at sectors such as agriculture and waste. The IMEO will provide the means to prioritise actions and monitor commitments made by those signed up to the Global Methane Pledge. This pledge, which is led by the United States and European Union and is backed by thirty countries, was announced during September and will be formally launched during COP26, which started on 31 October in Glasgow, Scotland. The Global Methane Pledge seeks to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The European Union’s Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson said; ‘Existing systems do not allow is to determine precisely enough where emissions happen across the globe and in what volumes. Once better data is available, countries can take swift action and well-targeted action. In the EU we will already propose pioneering legislation to cut methane emissions this year. This includes mandatory leak detection and repair and limiting venting and flaring.’

The IMEO has released its first annual report: An Eye on Methane: International Methane Emissions Observatory Report 2021, to coincide with its launch. The report sets out the need for ‘an independent and trusted entity to integrate multiple sources of heterogeneous data into a coherent and policy-relevant dataset.

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