At UN Climate talks, 50 oil companies promise to slash methane emissions and end routine flaring by 2030, aiming to combat climate change. However, environmentalists view the pledge as a ‘smokescreen’ to hide the need to phase out oil, gas, and coal.
The Pledge and Context
The president of COP28, Sultan al-Jaber, announced that 50 oil companies, including major national oil companies and multi-nationals, have committed to achieving near-zero methane emissions and ending routine flaring by 2030. This move is aimed at significantly reducing greenhouse emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Methane, which is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, is released at various points in the oil and gas production process.
Environmental Concerns and Criticism
The pledge is viewed by environmental groups as a tactic to maintain the status quo for the oil and gas industry rather than pushing for a meaningful shift. More than 300 civil society groups criticized the pledge, calling it a ‘smokescreen’ to hide the necessity of phasing out fossil fuels. Marcelo Mena, CEO of Global Methane Hub, rejected the idea that commitments to minimize methane emissions are a way to delay the phase-out of fossil fuels.
Regulations and International Efforts
Stricter regulations are being put in place to address methane emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule targeting emissions from existing oil and gas wells, while the European Union has reached a deal to reduce methane emissions from the energy industry. However, critics argue that the pledge does not address the burning of oil and natural gas by end users, which also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to the oil companies’ pledge, 110 countries have committed to tripling the world’s installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. This aligns with a similar pledge made by the leaders of the Group of 20 in September. These countries account for 80% of all planet-warming gases.