Cutting methane emissions is the fastest opportunity we have to help avert our most acute climate risks, including crop loss, wildfires, extreme weather and rising sea levels.
Thanks in large part to EDF’s persistent push on three critical fronts, we’re well-poised to reach our goal of reducing oil and gas methane emissions by 45% by 2030 — the same near-term climate benefit as closing one-third of all the coal plants in the world.
Now — right now — is methane's moment. But this moment didn’t materialize out of thin air. Here's a brief look back at our three-front campaign to cut methane emissions… and a look forward on where we're headed.
Leading with science and innovation
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. But EDF’s work in the lab, on the ground and in the sky continues to make it faster and cheaper than ever to locate, quantify and reduce methane emissions from sources including the oil and gas industry. (Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas.)
A bigger problem than we thought
EDF initiates largest body of peer-reviewed research on oil and gas methane (60 papers and counting), involving 140 scientists and industry partners. Studies reveal oil and gas methane pollution levels 60% higher than estimated.
New tech finds hidden leaks
EDF teams with Google Earth Outreach to equip Google Street View cars with sensors to quickly and effectively identify methane leaks. Utilities across the country are now using advanced leak detection technology.
Making the invisible visible
Using a special airborne infrared camera, EDF captured powerful footage of the largest methane leak in U.S. history near Los Angeles.
Accurately measuring methane’s impact
Science magazine publishes high-profile study by EDF and partner scientists calling for new metrics to account for methane’s impact on warming.
Going to space for a global view
EDF announces affiliate MethaneSAT LLC will build a satellite that will measure global methane pollution with unprecedented scope and precision.
The fastest way to slow warming
New research led by EDF shows that a rapid, full-scale effort to reduce methane emissions could slow the rate of global warming by as much as 30% and avoid half a degree Fahrenheit of warming by midcentury.
Bringing business along
The oil and gas industry is a huge source of methane pollution. Reducing methane pollution can be as simple as tightening a valve, but there are millions of oil and gas wells around the world and hundreds of thousands of miles of major pipelines. Finding and fixing these leaks is good business (lost gas equals wasted money) and critical for the planet.
Getting industry on board
The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which EDF and partners helped create with companies responsible for 30% of global oil production, commits to reduce methane leaks to near zero, keeping 99.75% of gas in pipes and out of the atmosphere.
Mapping a major hotspot
EDF launches major research project to map methane pollution in the Permian Basin, the world’s largest oil and gas field. Initial findings indicate three times as much methane pollution as official estimates.
Business-as-usual is changing
Exxon shareholders vote to replace three board members with forward-thinking leaders who could help catalyze and accelerate a much-needed transition toward a clean energy future.
Keeping oil companies accountable
EDF is instrumental in bringing together some 50 oil companies to agree to slash their methane emissions to near-zero by 2030. To ensure these companies meet the pledge, EDF, the International Energy Agency, the U.N. Environment Programme and allies launch an independent partnership to track progress.
Forging policy to drive change
Science alone won’t mitigate the impact of methane emissions. Neither can business. Stronger state and federal policies are needed to drive change and level the playing field. As the world’s largest oil and gas producer, the United States has both an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the way.
2014 - 2017
Making progress across U.S. states
EDF and partners secure new rules to limit oil and gas methane pollution in California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, and our campaign leads to national methane reduction commitments from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Groundbreaking U.S. guidelines
EDF and partners lead a successful effort to secure the first U.S. federal rules to reduce oil and gas methane pollution.
Historic U.S. climate law passes
After long negotiations and EDF working tirelessly with key Senate offices, the U.S. Congress passes the Inflation Reduction Act. The law will create a program that complements Environmental Protection Agency regulations to drive down methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
China announces an action plan
EDF partners with key ministries and provincial governments to help China develop its first national methane action plan. This blueprint sets a framework for methane use and monitoring from coal mines, as well as other sectors.
EU moves on methane
The European Union agrees on legislation to rein in dangerous methane emissions. EDF’s public campaign and engagement with policymakers across the EU played a major role in creating these pioneering rules.
Sweeping new US rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveils historic rules to limit methane pollution from oil and gas sources. The safeguards are a vital win for the climate, clean air and public health. They are informed by years of EDF advocacy and research.
What’s our next bold move to meet the methane moment?
MethaneSAT: Getting ready for launch
MethaneSAT will be the most advanced methane-tracking satellite in space, measuring methane emissions virtually anywhere on earth.Learn more
Please share with a friend!