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UNECE Gas Experts discuss Methane Emissions

Natural gas is often considered the cleanest fossil fuel. However, its principal component, methane, is a potent greenhouse gas. Although short-lived in the atmosphere, methane contributes more than ten per cent to the overall anthropogenic emissions. Reducing methane emissions is one of the low-hanging fruits of climate change mitigation.

A significant portion of methane emissions comes from the production, transport and use of natural gas. These emissions present a challenge to the sustainability credentials of the natural gas industry. The exact extent of methane emissions from the gas value chain is little known or understood – the currently available information is sporadic and often based on estimates. There is neither a common technological approach to monitoring and recording methane emissions, nor a standard method for reporting them. What we do know is that the volumes of gas produced at the source and the volumes delivered to end users show significant variances across UNECE member States. In many UNECE member States, there is an opportunity to improve efficiency in the gas supply chain from source to use. The UNECE Group of Experts on Gas is mandated to help harness these opportunities.

On 27 and 28 March, the UNECE Group of Experts on Gas will meet in Geneva to discuss how the methane emissions from the gas industry can be monitored, measured, reported and ultimately reduced. This activity comes as a response to the Committee on Sustainable Energy’s request that its relevant expert groups focus on establishing a baseline, benchmarking and scale of current methane emissions in those industries, with the aim of giving clear guidance to policymakers.

By reducing methane emissions, UNECE member States can get closer to delivering on the Paris Agreement and to attaining a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. This work cannot be done without active the involvement of all stakeholders. For this reason, the Group of Experts on Gas brings together not only UNECE member States but also the private sector, international and non-governmental organizations and academia who all have distinct and key roles to play.

To accelerate this important work, the UNECE secretariat developed a Model Framework for Reducing Methane Emissions along the Gas Value Chain for consideration by the Group of Experts. This work draws inspiration from other UNECE activities, such as the Safety Guidelines and Good Practices for Pipelines developed for the Conference of Parties on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents and the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. The Model Framework could serve as a building block of the future Best Practice Guidance in Managing Methane Emissions along the Gas Value Chain that is being developed by the Group of Experts.

In addition to the discussions on methane, the Group of Experts on Gas will organize a round table on gas supply, transit and demand. Featuring experts from leading gas exporting, transit and importing countries, the round table will present the gas supply and demand outlook for Europe and its impact on upstream, mid-stream and downstream investments. 

For more information, please visit http://www.unece.org/energy/gas.html or contact Branko Milicevic at branko.milicevic@unece.org.