$20trn investor group calls on energy firms to join new UNEP methane body

Concerns that leakage limits benefits of natural gas

A group of three investor climate change bodies, representing more than 200 institutional investors with $20trn in assets in total under management, have called for oil and gas companies to commit to a new United Nations methane body.

The investor groups, the European-focused Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the US Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Australia/New Zealand Investors Group on Climate Change would like companies to join the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s (CCAC) Oil and Gas Methane Partnership.

The coalition itself is a voluntary, government and scientific body under the UN Environment Programme that was founded in 2012.

Its new methane initiative encourages systematic evaluation and management of methane emissions as well as public reporting and policy development. Under the partnership, companies commit to develop an implementation plan within six months of joining; they also make a voluntary commitment to implement emission reduction opportunities deemed feasible.The investors are concerned that the leakage of methane – a short-term greenhouse gas – undermines the climate change benefits of natural gas.

In 2012 the investor groups called on natural gas firms and regulators to consider more effective control of methane emissions. They went on to ask investor-backed environmental data body the CDP to incorporate methane questions into its survey of companies, which it did last year.

Methane emissions have also been the focus of investor resolutions at company annual meetings such as those filed by Trillium Asset Management at Range Resources, ONEOK and Spectra Energy.

“We believe that participation in the CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership will help companies to reduce their emissions, improve the efficiency of company operations and enhance the role and credibility of natural gas as a bridge to a low carbon future,” the investors said in a statement.