COP28: Oil and Gas titans commit to Net Zero, Methane goals

Around 50 oil and gas producers, including Saudi Aramco and 29 national oil companies, inked a pact aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 and almost eliminating methane emissions by 2030. COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber highlighted these commitments as a proactive step in engaging with these companies during the negotiations.

“If we want to accelerate progress across the climate agenda, we must bring everyone in to be accountable and responsible for climate action,” said Jaber. “We must all focus on reducing emissions and apply a positive can-do vision to drive climate action and get everyone to take action. We need a clear action plan, and I am determined to deliver one.”

The agreement is part of a Global Decarbonization Accelerator launched at COP28, focused on three pillars: energy systems of the future such as renewables and hydrogen; the fossil fuel sector and emission-intensive industries; and methane.

Under the oil and gas pillar, the industrial transition accelerator will focus on decarbonization across key heavy-emitting sectors: cement, aluminum, steel, oil and gas, power and aviation/maritime.

The 50 oil and gas companies account for 40% of global oil production. The net zero commitment relates to scope 1 and 2 emissions, a COP28 presidency spokesman said.

Key national oil companies such as Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, QatarEnergy, Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Company, China’s Sinopec, CNOOC and PetroChina, and the National Iranian Oil Company, were missing from this list.

On methane, the agreement sees the 50 companies commit to setting interim targets that would reduce methane emissions to 0.2% of oil and natural gas production by 2030, and to end routine flaring.

What makes this pledge distinctive is that it will be scrutinized using technology and data.

The United Nations Environment Program’s International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), the Environmental Defense Fund and the International Energy Agency will help monitor compliance by tracking methane emissions using satellite data, and other analytical tools.

Fred Krupp, president of the non-profit advocacy group the Environmental Defense Fund, said the pledge had the potential to be the most impactful climate action in over three decades.

“It could lower the planet’s temperature and reduce cataclysmic storms from what we will otherwise experience in the next decade,” he said.

Methane accounts for 45% to 50% of oil and gas emissions, 80% of it from upstream, the spokesperson said. The methane pledge includes zero routine flaring by 2030, he added.

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