The fossil fuel industry is failing to tackle its methane emissions, despite many low cost opportunities, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published overnight.

The IEA’s Global Methane Tracker, which presents country-by-country estimates of methane emissions, found the global energy industry released 135 million tonnes of methane into the atmosphere in 2022.

The report found Australia was responsible for 1.6% of global methane emissions in 2022, even though we have only 0.33% of the world’s population.

“Methane is more than 80 times more damaging to the atmosphere over 20 years than carbon dioxide, making methane a big contributor to the climate crisis,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate and energy campaigner Suzanne Harter.

“While farmers in Australia are working to reduce the methane from their livestock, we have not seen the same initiative from the coal and gas sector.

“Direct fugitive emissions from open cut coal mining, which continue for many years after mining stops, are a big problem in Australia – even BHP has conceded as much.

“Plans to expand coalmining would lock in these uncontrolled emissions for years to come.

“Satellite data has found some coal mines emit significantly more methane than they report.

“There are strong indications companies are underreporting methane emissions, often relying on estimates rather than direct measurement. 

“Australia joined the Global Methane Pledge last year, committing to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 –  it’s time to develop a national methane action plan to make sure we achieve that goal.

“When it comes to rapidly reducing Australia’s most potent climate heating pollution, cutting methane emissions from the coal and gas industry is low hanging fruit.”

Research by Ember shows Australia could reduce its annual methane emissions by 18% by 2030 from coal mines alone.

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