We are on the Hunt for Methane in Europe
In August 2020, Clean Air Task Force purchased a FLIR GF320 camera, which is calibrated to visualize methane, an otherwise invisible and potent greenhouse gas.
This camera is cool, but it comes in at a hefty price tag. Trained users can see heat differences between objects, and with its special filter, the infrared camera can detect chemical emissions that are invisible to the bare eye.
My job is to travel around Europe to find and document methane emissions in the oil and gas industry using our fancy new camera. I’ll be looking at production sites like oil and gas wells and transmission facilities along pipelines. One of our partners in the US, Earthworks, has been documenting methane emissions in the United States for years, and we’re planning to do the same in Europe – the first time anybody’s done that over here.
Methane is a major contributor to global warming. By some estimates, anthropogenic sources of methane contribute to more than 25 percent of the world’s warming. Methane emissions are more than 80 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide on a twenty-year scale.
While oil and gas production in Europe has declined over the last few decades, Europe is the largest importer of fossil gas and one of the largest importers of oil. The European Union is in a powerful position to significantly reduce global methane emissions within only a few short years by implementing tough import standards against producers of oil and gas.
I arrived in Germany in September of 2020 to start working as the oil and gas campaign manager for Clean Air Task Force’s Super Pollutants team. Over the next year, I’m going to be spending a lot of time on the road, on trains, in airports, and out on boats. I’ll be documenting methane emissions at oil and gas facilities throughout Europe to raise awareness of the harmful, climate warming effects of fossil gas emissions through a highly visual campaign.
Trying to carry out this work in the middle of a pandemic has been challenging to say the least. My ability to visit different countries in Europe has been hampered by travel restrictions and lockdowns. But the climate cannot wait!
To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global warming to a 1.5°C degree increase, we must act now. We need to immediately plug every hole and leak that is releasing methane into the atmosphere and transition away from fossil fuels to green energy infrastructure.
Before this job, I have to admit that I was a life-long proponent of cooking on a gas stove. When my wife and I were looking for our first apartment, I refused to move into a house that didn’t have a gas stove. I love to cook. Gas is the best…or so I thought. My thinking has changed – if you’ve never cooked on a proper induction stove, you are really missing out. Anyway, I’m still working to convince my mom and the rest of my family they have to switch over to electricity. But that is a story for another time.
In the meantime, follow our campaign around Europe as we release evidence of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.