Action on methane leaks
Methane leaking from oil and gas facilities around the world – a major contributor to global warming – is set to be spotted from space.
The Environmental Defense Fund has announced it aims to launch a satellite called MethaneSAT by 2021 to scan the globe and make major leaks public. It hopes the information will enable governments to force action. Building and launching the satellite will cost tens of millions of dollars, but the EDF says it has raised most of the money.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the short term, and is responsible for about a fifth of humancaused climate change. The oil and gas industry is to blame for about a third of anthropogenic methane emissions, from fracking and other exploration sites, and from leaky pipelines.
“Cutting methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry is the single fastest thing we can do to help put the brakes on climate change right now,” said Fred Krupp, the EDF president. Only 3% of oil and gas companies report quantitative methane emissions, according to the EDF. “By providing reliable, fully transparent data on a worldwide scale, MethaneSAT will help transform a serious climate threat into a crucial opportunity,” he said.
Plugging methane leaks is widely seen as a fast, cheap way to tackle climate change. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates half of the gas leaks could be stopped at zero cost, because the cost of doing so is offset by the value of the extra gas captured and then sold.