Big emitters of the heat-trapping gas methane can expect a call from the United Nations starting next year, when the global body launches a new platform to combine existing systems to track the mighty greenhouse gases from space.

The United Nations Environment Program said on Friday that the new methane alert and response system – MARS for short – is intended to help companies take action on major sources of emissions, but also to provide data in a transparent and independent manner.

It is based on satellite measurements made by NASA and the European, German and Italian space agencies. Data from private satellite operators will also be integrated in the future.

“Each of these instruments gives us the correct answer to a slightly different question, because each of them sees different things,” said Manfredi Caltagirone, head of the International Methane Emissions Observatory at UNEP. “So the only way to get a proper picture is to connect them all together.”

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The data will be released 45 to 75 days after it is collected, which means companies will have plenty of time to fix leaks by the time they are made public.

“We think it’s important not just to create a shame tool, but to engage operators and governments so they can act on the specific event,” Caltagirone said.

Flares burn methane and other hydrocarbons at an oil and gas facility in Lenorah, Texas on October 15, 2021.
(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Publishing the metrics on a UN-backed platform would also ensure it is seen as neutral and trusted, providing a standard that prevents companies from “shopping around” for the data that makes them the best, it said. -he declares.

There will be no way to force issuers to act.

“We are realistic that some companies and some countries will be more cooperative than others,” Caltagirone said. “But we can ensure that this information is available to those who are interested in it.”

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The first data will be released in the second half of next year, focusing on large methane leaks. As it matures, the platform will incorporate less dramatic but equally important emission sources such as livestock and rice fields.

Reducing methane emissions around the world is key to the Paris climate agreement’s ambitious goal of capping global warming at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century compared to then preindustrial. Last year, the United States, the European Union and others pledged to reduce overall methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.

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