Methane emissions from energy sector rose in 2023: IEA

Planet-heating methane released by the fossil fuel industry rose to near record highs in 2023 despite technology available to curb this pollution at virtually no cost, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Agriculture is the main source but the next largest is the energy sector, where methane leaks out from energy infrastructure such as gas pipelines and from deliberate releases during maintenance.

Methane is responsible for around 30 percent of the global warming experienced today, according to the UN Environment Program.

While some 40 percent of methane is released from natural sources, mainly wetlands, human activities are responsible for the rest.

These emissions have risen three years in a row, the IEA said.

And a significant proportion of the 2023 emissions, around 40 percent, “could have been avoided at no net cost” using tried and tested methods to prevent leakages, said IEA energy expert Christophe McGlade.

“It still represents a massive missed opportunity,” he said.

Two-thirds of methane emissions from fossil fuels come from just 10 countries.

China leads for methane from coal production, while in the oil and gas sector the United States generates the most emissions, followed by Russia.