Seoul National University Partners with Top International Experts to Study Methane Emissions from Korean Natural Gas System

May 23, 2022
Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437,

(SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a leading international nonprofit organization, announced today it has signed a new agreement with Seoul National University Graduate School of Environmental Studies (SNU GSES) to study where and how much methane escapes from the nation’s gas delivery system in Seoul. They will also facilitate collaboration among industry, government and scientists to develop new policies and practices to reduce methane emissions across the nation’s gas system.

Present for the event were EDF Senior Vice President for Energy Transition, Mark Brownstein, and EDF Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President Dr. Steven Hamburg, along with SNU's Yonghoon Son, Vice Dean of Graduate School of Environmental Studies, and Prof. Sujong Jeong of SNU Graduate School of Environmental Studies.

“Reducing methane is a vital goal that must be achieved in order to reach carbon neutrality and respond to the climate crisis. The research agreement between EDF, a global research institute that will soon launch a methane monitoring satellite, and SNU Graduate School of Environmental Studies will serve as an important opportunity to deal with the global climate crisis in Korea and beyond,” said Sujong Jeong of SNU.

Natural gas is made up primarily of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. Last fall South Korea joined more than 100 countries, including Japan and the United States, in signing the Global Methane Pledge, which calls for collective efforts to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030. New research under the agreement could help policymakers better understand to what extent it can cut emissions by tightening gas infrastructure.

Asia-Pacific countries have become a key driver of the natural gas market. Already, South Korea, Japan, and China account for 50% of the world’s liquid natural gas (LNG) trade. By 2050, the region is expected to account for nearly 60% of new global gas demand growth. Natural gas is preferable to coal in terms of reduced carbon dioxide emissions, but methane leaks and other emissions undermine those benefits.

“South Korea is a global leader in innovation and clean energy technologies like electric vehicles. Joining forces to help find and reduce methane emissions is a vital opportunity to extend this role, both in the region and on the world stage,” said EDF’s Brownstein.   

Credible and transparent data on methane emissions throughout the oil and gas supply chain are urgently needed to design mitigation strategies and enable effective policies, but data on emissions from LNG production, storage and the delivery of gas through long distance and local pipelines in the Asia-Pacific region have been particularly sparse.

The joint effort by SNU GSES and EDF is expected to help fill in gaps in understanding of oil and gas methane emissions by facilitating the exchange of science and best practices related to methane measurements, as well as help to validate evolving remote sensing data and provide insight into differences among and within data sets.

“We are pleased to collaborate and share resources to support and advance the development of policy-relevant methane science with the prestigious Seoul National University,” said EDF’s Hamburg. “It is a crucial opportunity for countries and companies to accelerate the ability to meet the ambition of net-zero pathways, goals and commitments and energy security.”

The International Energy Agency says that that Asia-Pacific oil and gas operators can use current technologies to cut methane emissions 70% by 2030.

“Reducing methane emissions is an achievable, highly cost-effective process. It starts with locating and measuring the sources of emissions,” Hamburg said. “This partnership with SNU represents EDF’s commitment to work on regionally specific methane mitigation strategies and we hope it contributes to Asia-Pacific oil and gas suppliers’ being able to rapidly achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Under the agreement EDF and SNU will cooperate in:

  • Facilitation of dialogue and collaboration between scientists, academics, industries, and policymakers on methane studies and energy policy to raise awareness of climate impacts from methane and achieve reductions.
  • Detection, mapping and measurement of methane from the urban gas distribution network in the city of Seoul in alignment with best practices and principles, resulting in a peer-reviewed scientific publication.
  • Exchange of information and experiences regarding studying methane emissions, including detection, mapping, quantification, and attribution methods for methane emissions from the natural gas distribution network and LNG facilities.
  • Development and dissemination of SNU-EDF research findings with key stakeholders, and exchange of information associated with EDF’s leadership and activities in institutions such as the International Methane Emission Observatory (IMEO) and MethaneSAT, LLC.

Established in 1967, EDF has headquarters in four key regions (China, India, Europe, and the U.S.) and operates in 28 geographies with unique projects running across programs in energy, nature, and health. EDF has significantly contributed to increasing awareness of the importance of methane mitigation on the global climate agenda through a decade of science and advocacy that has expanded the knowledge and solutions for addressing methane. Soon, this solution set will include data from EDF’s affiliate MethaneSAT, which when orbiting the earth next year will be able to provide comprehensive high-quality information on methane emissions from at least 80% of global oil and gas production.

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About Environmental Defense Fund

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund

About Seoul National University Graduate School of Environmental Studies

Seoul National University is a prestigious national university of South Korea. It is the first national university in South Korea and serves as a model educational institution. The Graduate School of Environmental Studies at SNU was established in 1973 to train professionals for addressing problems created by rapid industrialization and urbanization. GSES is the first institution of higher learning for training experts related to urban planning and design, transportation management, area development, environmental management, landscape architecture and environmental planning and design.

SNU Climate Lab has been conducting various studies to identify the causes and effects of climate change since 2018. Research is ongoing on monitoring and modeling of carbon dioxide and methane from urban to global scales for an objective carbon neutrality goal setting and greenhouse gas stocktake. In particular, SNU Climate Lab is the only laboratory in South Korea equipped with monitoring technology from ground observations to satellite monitoring and is working with various international research institutes such as NASA in the US, ESA in Europe, and NIES in Japan.