A recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has shed light on the concerning underreporting of methane emissions by coal and gas companies in Australia.
The study emphasizes the need for more ambitious targets to combat this issue, urging the Australian government to increase its annual reduction in emissions from 4.9% to 9.8% every year from now to 2030 to make sure we don’t miss the methane emissions which are currently being under-reported by an estimated 60%.
The increased annual reduction is needed to account for, and then reduce, huge amounts of methane emissions that are currently not counted or reported by gas and coal mining companies. Our emissions are likely 60% higher than we’re reporting to the UN (according to the IEA’s Global Methane Tracker report), that’s why we’ll need to set even more ambitious methane reduction targets to get close to hard cap set by the Safeguard mechanism, and the 30% reduction target by 2030 set for signatories of the Global Methane Pledge.
Urgent Government Intervention:
The responsibility falls on Minister Bowen and the Australian Government to take immediate action to address this critical issue. Firstly, they must halt the opening of new coal and gas projects due to the highly potent methane emissions associated with these industries. Additionally, it is imperative that the government takes steps to fix the measurement and management laws surrounding methane emissions to prevent the continued leakage of vast amounts of methane from existing coal and gas mining operations.
Methane represents about 18% of global emissions and is estimated to have contributed to around 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution. While it represents a much smaller proportion of emissions in mass, it has had a disproportionate impact on climate change. Methane has a short lifespan – around 12 years – but it absorbs much more energy than CO2 while it exists in the atmosphere. Over a 100-year period, methane warms as much as 30 times more than CO2. However, over a 20-year period, methane warms as much as 82 times more than CO2.
Revising the Safeguard Mechanism:
To align with the Global Methane Pledge, which sets a target of 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030, Australia must set more ambitious goals. The IEEFA report recommends increasing the annual emission reduction target within the Safeguard Mechanism from 4.9% to 9.8%. This adjustment is necessary to account for the substantial amount of methane emissions that are currently uncounted or unreported by coal and gas mining companies.
Australia's underreported methane emissions present a significant challenge in combating climate change. The IEEFA report calls for urgent action, demanding an increase in the annual reduction target from 4.9% to 9.8% every year from now to 2030 to ensure the inclusion of currently unreported methane emissions. By addressing this issue, Australia can work towards meeting the safeguard hard cap and contribute to the 30% reduction target set by the Global Methane Pledge. It is essential for the Australian government to prioritize the revision of methane measurement and management laws while embracing cleaner alternatives to coal and gas to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.