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IEA calls COP28 'big opportunity' to slash methane emissions

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the International Energy Agency's chief energy economist, Tim Gould, said the climate summit should focus on methane as well as climate finance for the developing world.

COP28, the United Nations' upcoming climate talks in Dubai, begin on Thursday. The event presents “a big opportunity” for the host country, the United Arab Emirates, to form a broad coalition of companies in the oil and gas sector to significantly reduce methane emissions, the International Energy Agency has told Al-Monitor.

Due to its chemical structure, methane traps more heat in the atmosphere per molecule than carbon dioxide (CO2). The UN Development Programme has described the hydrocarbon as 80 times more harmful than CO2 20 years after it is released.

More than 100 countries representing the sources of 45% of all global emissions pledged at COP27 in Egypt last year to reduce their emissions by 30% by 2030. But climate scientists have demanded more action, saying that cutting overall methane emissions by 45% by 2030 can help the world reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Oil and gas extraction, processing and distribution are responsible for nearly a quarter of all global methane emissions, according to a 2021 assessment by the World Meteorological Organization.

The Paris-based IEA estimates that the global energy sector was responsible for nearly 135 million metric tons of methane emissions last year, a slight rise from 2021. Coal, oil and natural gas operations contributed around 40 metric tons each of emissions in 2022, while the remaining five were from leaks from end-use equipment.

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