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September 9th, 2016– Mexico City. With the ambitious goal of reducing climate change causing methane emissions by 40-45% below 2012 levels by 2025, Mexico hosted a workshop in the country’s capital to discuss regulatory experiences in Canada and the United States, and explore ways to reduce fugitive methane emissions from its oil and gas sector.
Representatives from regulatory agencies across North America, including California, Colorado, and Alberta Canada, Mexican officials from the Federal Energy Agency (the SENER), the Environment Ministry and from regulatory agencies overseeing the oil and gas sector, as well as civil society organizations from the US and Mexico, gathered at Mexico’s SENER to share thoughts on ways fugitive methane and flaring could be drastically reduced to reach targets set by Mexico in its recent tripartite agreements with the USA and Canada to tackle climate change through methane emissions reductions.
Drew Nelson, of the Environmental Defense Fund, attending the meeting pointed out during the exchanges, that methane traps 84 times more heat than CO2, and is responsible for some 25% of the climate warming that we are experiencing worldwide. The oil and gas sector is the major source of this problem. Further, Nelson stated, “there are proven cost-effective ways and technologies to reduce emissions. Everything exists now to do this.” Mexico, the US and Canada occupy three of the top five highest contaminator ranks worldwide, comprising some 20% of global emissions. A 45% decrease in emissions, as planned by the three countries, could mitigate 10% of total global emissions, equivalent to closing 1,000 coal fire plants.
Representatives from all three countries agreed that addressing fugitive methane from the oil and gas sector is probably one of the quickest and most effective ways for government agencies to tackle climate change, and meet their international agreements and targets on emissions reductions. As Carlos Mena from the Mario Molina Center in Mexico indicated, reducing methane is probably the fastest way Mexico can achieve its climate targets. It’s cheap, its fast and its feasible. He also pointed out that the economic benefits from methane reductions are higher than the costs of abatement, which provide the private sector a firm incentive to engage on methane reduction actions.
Among the issues covered during the workshop were experiences in North America to introduce legislation, sector regulations to contain methane emissions in oil and gas operations, as well as Mexico’s specific needs to develop robust methane inventories, identification of key source points, introducing new technologies to contain emissions, as well as introducing effective regulations, monitoring systems, and guidance for the public and private sector on methane leakage abatement techniques. Some of the potential actions that have been proven effective and which could be employed in Mexico are detecting methane emissions through the use of infrared cameras, improving seals, eliminating pneumatic pressure valve methane escapes, capturing emissions and re-injecting or reusing methane gases, and eliminating flaring. Mexico is currently developing a medium and long-term strategy to reduce short life climate pollutants like methane, HFCs, Black Carbon and others, in a variety of sectors.
The workshop was co-sponsored by the Clean Air Task Force and the Center for Clean Air Policy. The Center for Human Rights and Environment (CHRE) was one of over 60 participants present from the three North American countries, in the workshop. CHRE is a member of the UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and works actively on a variety of public policy and sector initiatives to reduce short life climate pollutants such as methane and black carbon.
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