Using scientific, concrete, and verifiable goals to reduce methane emissions, ONE Future was able to surpass its 1% goal when reporting 2017 numbers. Our members have a common goal to reduce emissions to improve the quality of life for the communities in which we operate; and we will continue to work to reduce emissions further and encourage others to join us so that we can do so collectively as an industry.
ONE Future has identified sectoral performance targets for each of the four major industry sectors (Exploration & Production; Gathering & Processing; Transmission & Storage, and Distribution & Retail. Considering not all companies are created equal nor sectors created equal, these sectoral targets serve both to benchmark company progress toward their goals, as well as facilitate comparisons amongst diverse companies as each strives for optimal performance.
Quick primer on methane
What we call natural gas is almost purely methane — a very simple compound, chemically speaking, consisting of a single carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms (CH4). Because of its simplicity and lack of additional compounds, natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel when burnt to produce energy, emitting virtually no NOx (nitrous oxide), SOx (sulfur dioxide), or particulate matter. Natural gas is also the least carbon intensive of fossil fuels, producing half as much carbon dioxide as other fossil fuels when used to produce electrical power. However, if methane is emitted directly into the atmosphere instead of combusted, it is a potent greenhouse gas that is roughly 25 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.
Industry has reduced its methane emissions
According to EPA data, US natural gas producers have reduced methane emissions by 17 percent since 1990 (even as production grew some 37 percent over the same period). That strong record of achievement has allowed the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and achieve major improvements to air quality, while meeting our energy security needs. But we know that more can be done.
Our new goal: growing membership
ONE Future’s member companies are committed to the ongoing improvement of emissions management to assure efficient energy production and delivery. ONE Future’s members include some of the largest natural gas production, processing, transmission and distribution companies in the United States – a unique coalition that represents virtually the entire natural gas value chain. Here’s some background on why our member companies have made a commitment to reducing their methane emissions.
ONE Future is focused on demonstrating an innovative, performance-based approach to the management of methane emissions directed toward a concrete goal: by 2025 ONE Future members will achieve an average rate of methane emissions across the entire natural gas value chain that is one percent or less of total natural gas produced and delivered. Although the coalition has achieved this goal, our next focus will be on growing the membership in the coalition, and helping other companies achieve the same goal.
Why did we pick the one percent target?
1. Feasibility. We believe that an emissions intensity rate of one percent or less is ambitious, but achievable using existing technology and practices.
2. Scientific research. A well-known peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that in order for natural gas usage to provide immediate greenhouse gas reduction benefits as compared to any other fossil fuel in any other application, the industry would have to achieve a leak/loss rate of one percent or less. While ONE Future members do not unequivocally accept every conclusion of that paper, we believe it is sufficiently robust to serve as a guidepost for our aspirational targets.
3. Public acceptance. We strive for continuous improvement to ensure that natural gas remains the fuel of choice for any end-use sector at all times: power – including natural gas delivered by local distribution companies for power generation; residential, commercial and industrial demand; and important emerging markets like transportation and LNG exports.
4. Affordability. Finally, we believe that the industry can cost-effectively achieve an average emissions intensity rate of one percent or less. Eliminating all emissions would be both technically unfeasible and economically untenable. However, ONE Future believes that targeted investment in abatement technologies today can both yield significant improvements in environmental performance and supply chain efficiency – and that’s just good business.