Methane emissions ‘incredibly cheap’ to cut without needing offsets, safeguard mechanism inquiry told

(The Guardian, 27 Feb 2023) Hearing into Labor’s changes to the scheme told a 75% reduction in methane was possible using commercially competitive existing technology.

Methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are “incredibly cheap” to cut and companies could improve their financial position by embracing existing technology to stop carbon leaks, an inquiry into the Albanese government’s climate policy has heard.

A hearing into proposed changes to the safeguard mechanism – a Coalition policy applied to industrial emissions that Labor plans to revamp – was told the International Energy Agency (IEA) had estimated a 75% reduction in methane was possible using commercially competitive existing technology, such as capturing the methane and using it to generate electricity.

Matt Watson, from the US Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said with gas prices inflated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nearly all of these cuts would be cost-effective for the companies involved.

Both the EDF and Ember, a UK-based energy thinktank, said there was no justification for fossil fuel companies being allowed to use carbon offsets as an alternative to cut methane emissions directly. This was partly because it was affordable to act onsite and partly because methane could not be minimised using offset projects that were meant to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, a different gas.

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The Guardian, 27 Feb 2023: Methane emissions ‘incredibly cheap’ to cut without needing offsets, safeguard mechanism inquiry told