New data shows energy industry methane emissions rose last year even as steep cuts of the potent greenhouse gas are needed to limit global warming, Ben writes.

🗞️ Driving the news: The International Energy Agency analysis said the rise is occurring despite huge opportunities for cost-effective cuts using existing tech.

  • “There is just no excuse,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement calling for more aggressive steps from industry and policymakers.

Why it matters: Methane accounts for around 30% of global temperature increases since the industrial revolution, and the energy sector currently creates over a third of human-induced methane, per the agency.

🖼️ The big picture: IEA estimates that roughly 70% of fossil fuel industry emissions of methane — the main component of natural gas — could be addressed with today’s methods.

  • The total is even higher in the oil and gas sector, IEA said, citing “well-known” techniques around leak detection, repair and equipment upgrades.
  • Ending all “non-emergency” flaring and venting is the “single most impactful measure countries can take.”
  • Major opportunities exist in the coal industry, the subject of a new, first-time IEA report that offers a “regulatory roadmap and toolkit.”

The intrigue: While IEA’s frustration is evident, the industry has been taking steps to rein in methane, and many energy producers have vowed further cuts.

  • IEA sees limited progress, noting emissions intensity — that is, per unit of energy produced — has dipped. In addition, very large leaks detected by satellite have fallen somewhat.
  • But overall, IEA says far more is possible from policymakers and companies, especially as the oil industry is flush with cash and huge cuts are possible at a fraction of their net income.

🧮 One wild stat: Based on average gas prices from 2017-2021, IEA estimates about 40% of methane could be stopped at zero net cost.

  • That’s because the price of preventing emissions is below the market value of the captured gas.
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