The United Nations and the European Union to Boost International Action on Powerful Climate-Warming Gas Methane

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Union launched today the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) to drive action and to monitor governments' pledged reductions of greenhouse gas methane that is responsible for at least a quarter of the current climate warming. IMEO was launched at the G20 Summit, on the eve of the latest round of climate talks, known as COP26 in Glasgow.

Methane released directly into the atmosphere is more than 80 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time horizon. However, as methane’s atmospheric lifespan is relatively short – 10 to 12 years – actions to cut methane emissions can yield the most immediate reduction in the rate of warming, while also delivering air quality benefits.

IMEO will improve the reporting accuracy and public transparency of human-caused methane emissions integrating data principally from four streams: reporting from the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 (OGMP 2.0, launched in November 2020 in the framework of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition), direct measurement data from scientific studies, remote sensing data, and national inventories. IMEO will initially focus on methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector, and then expand to other major emitting sectors like agriculture and waste.

The IMEO will receive no industry funding, but will be able to draw on data provided voluntarily by fossil fuel companies that have pledged to cut their methane emissions.