Collaborative paper with the Atlantic Council sets out clear ambitions for COP28 on flaring & methane

Today, the Atlantic Council published a paper with our CEO Mark Davis as the principal author. The report offers crucial insights underscoring the pivotal role of COP28 in driving comprehensive engagement and action to address flaring and methane issues. The report presents three actionable recommendations centred on engagement strategies, overcoming barriers, and scaling financing for methane and flaring reduction initiatives.

COP28, under the leadership of the UAE—a significant oil and gas producer and a leader in renewable energy deployment—presents a unique and timely opportunity to refocus global attention on accelerating the energy transition. While reducing all emissions, especially “scope 3” (end-use emissions), is paramount, the industry must initiate change by addressing its own operations, specifically focusing on “scope 1” emissions.

A substantial component of the upstream oil and gas industry’s “scope 1 emissions” is the flaring, venting, or leakage of 255 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas. This amounts to 6.3 percent of all gas produced, equivalent to 1.6 times Europe’s imports from Russia in 2021. It represents a staggering loss of up to £69 billion in revenue to host nations and is responsible for emitting at least 2.6 billion CO2-equivalent (CO2e) metric tons, surpassing emissions from aviation and equalling twice the energy-related emissions from the entire African continent.

However, nearly half of the emission reduction potential (1.2 billion tonnes) lies with countries that have not yet endorsed the “Global Methane Pledge.” To make a significant impact, the COP28 process must not only seek positive engagement with all countries but also actively foster inclusivity in finding solutions.

Dr Mark Davis, the report’s principal author, commented, “Leveraging its unique ability to bridge East and West, and North and South, the UAE can expedite global attention and on-the-ground action to achieve a 75% reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 2030.” Dr Davis added, “The UAE’s significant credibility in emissions reduction, built over the last 15 years, especially in materially reducing flaring, underscores its leadership role, though there is undoubtedly more that can be accomplished.”

Fortunately, most scope one emissions can be eliminated through proven technology at a net negative cost, with some of the lowest capital investments per metric ton of abated greenhouse gas. To substantially reduce scope 1 & 2 emissions, the report’s authors made three specific recommendations.

Firstly, the report advocates for countries and companies to view their flaring as a positive opportunity to drive economic growth and support decarbonisation, rather than a potential liability. Secondly, it proposes the creation of a new industry-wide fund to stimulate project identification and the necessary technical and commercial development of these opportunities. Thirdly, the report seeks to encourage oil and gas producers and international investors to rapidly increase capital funding for such projects. Without such funding, the global flaring problem will persist, significantly impeding our ability to achieve net-zero aspirations.