The Narrative Tracker uses InfluenceMap’s analysis of policy engagement by companies and industry associations to identify the most frequently applied narratives that the oil and gas industry and the agricultural industry have adopted in the process of weakening and opposing the development of ambitious methane policy and regulation.
Explore the dropdowns below to see InfluenceMap's summary of industry narratives, recent examples in the lobbying evidence, alongside a summary of expert recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as recommendations from the International Energy Agency (IEA) demonstrating suitable energy and policy pathways to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Since 2020, the oil and gas industry has employed the narrative that "methane regulations impact energy supply and security" in its advocacy to weaken and oppose the development of methane regulations in the sector.
In an article in February 2022, Eurogas President Didier Holleaux advocated against imposing regulations on imported fossil fuels in the EU’s Methane Regulation for the energy sector, on the basis that such regulations would jeopardize gas supplies in the long-term.
Similarly, InfluenceMap’s February 2022 report, 'The EU's Green Deal vs. the Gas Industry', demonstrated the use of narratives around energy security by the gas sector to against tougher regulatory action on fossil gas. This included in policies around methane emissions reductions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognized the need for “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane emissions to limit the effects of global warming. In 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that methane emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector could prevent substantial gas resources currently being lost to flaring and leaks in the supply chain. The use of regulation is estimated to enable a greater 210 billion cubic metres (bcm) of fossil gas to be made available to global gas markets, which could provide more immediate relief to energy security and supply concerns than investments in new gas supply.
The oil and gas industry has continued to push the narrative that “natural gas is a low-carbon, clean energy source” to promote the long-term role of fossil gas in the energy mix and dissociate fossil gas from its methane emissions and global warming impact. This narrative is often used when promoting coal to gas switching, arguing that fossil gas produces less carbon dioxide than coal. In the Global South in particular, fossil gas is also promoted as being better for air quality than solid biomass or charcoal.
For example, the Consumer Energy Alliance stated, “the emissions benefits of natural gas is undisputed. Energy from natural gas results in fewer emissions of almost all air pollutants, including carbon dioxide” in January 2022 public comments on the EPA’s 2022 Methane Regulations. In these comments, the association called for fossil gas production to not be “encumbered by regulations that do not consider economic and environmental impacts”.
InfluenceMap’s August 2021 analysis on the oil and gas industry’s digital advertising strategy found the American Petroleum Institute spent $647,123 on 4,854 Facebook adverts promoting fossil gas as a climate solution.
Fossil gas, often referred to as natural gas, has a lower carbon intensity than other fossil fuels, however it is predominantly formed of methane when it is used as a fuel. When combusted for energy it produces GHG emissions, including methane, a greenhouse gas with a warming effect 86 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Methane is routinely released in the production, processing, transportation and storage of fossil gas. The IPCC underlines that reductions in methane emissions would reduce the global warming effect, as well as lead to substantial co-benefits, including reduced air pollution and improved health.
The IEA also reports that global methane emissions from the energy sector are around 70% greater than officially reported by national governments.
The agricultural industry has attempted to delay and oppose ambitious regulation tackling agricultural sector methane emissions by recharacterizing these emissions as part of the "natural cycle” and therefore less impactful to global warming.
For example, Copa Cogeca responded to the EU Methane Strategy in 2020 advocating that agricultural methane emissions “originate from natural processes”, and do not have “additional warming potential” in order to oppose measures to reduce the sector’s emissions.
The latest IPCC AR6 report does acknowledge that the global warming potential of methane from agriculture is slightly lower than the impact from fossil fuels. However, it states the need to rapidly reduce anthropogenic methane emissions, including from the agricultural sector, which accounts for 44% of methane emissions.
The agricultural sector has pushed the narrative of emphasizing its improvements in efficiency to justify avoiding regulations for methane emissions. The use of this narrative draws similarities with the oil and gas industry’s efforts to amplify its own voluntary efforts to weaken and restrict the development of methane regulation.
The European Dairy Association’s public response to the EU Methane Strategy in August 2020 adopted this approach, where the association emphasized the improvements in dairy production in Europe and gains in methane efficiency to advocate against the development of ambitious measures to reduce methane emissions in the agricultural sector.
The IPCC have not published specific recommendations to this point. Instead in May 2021 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report titled “The Global Methane Assessment”; in which it stressed the need to reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2030 in order to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. It also emphasized the need to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector, and that current targeted efforts are not sufficient to achieve 1.5°C. UNEP's 2022 Emissions Gap Report also emphasizes that methane emission reductions are an essential part of Paris-compatible mitigation strategies.
The agricultural sector has emphasized the need to prioritize tackling methane emissions from the oil and gas sector over the sector’s own emissions. This narrative tends to be used alongside other agricultural sector narratives focusing on efficiency gains as a means to oppose regulation.
In June 2020, Copa Cogeca’s submitted public comments on the EU Methane Strategy, where the industry association stated that “priority has to be given to reduce the methane emissions from fossil sources” and avoid additional cost burdens placed on farmers.
According to the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land-Use, the agricultural sector accounts for 44% of anthropogenic methane emissions. In particular, expanded ruminant and rice production are important contributors to increasing methane emissions in recent decades. The energy sector accounts for around 40% of anthropogenic methane emissions. The report places special emphasis on the importance of reducing GHG emissions from the agricultural sector to mitigate climate change due to the magnitude of global anthropogenic emissions.