As these companies have themselves recognized, the role of natural gas in a world that can—and must—decarbonize depends on minimizing harmful emissions of methane from across oil and gas production and the natural gas value chain. But a recent comprehensive study involving dozens of leading academics and companies around the country found that U.S. methane emissions from industry are 60 percent higher than prior estimates—enough to double the climate impact of natural gas.
The oil and gas industry is at an inflection point: according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the role that natural gas can play in the future of global energy is inextricably linked to its ability to help address environmental problems.
One of these problems is methane emissions–a key focus of the World Gas Conference in Washington, D.C. this week–which represent a reputational risk to the oil and gas industry, a waste of saleable resources, and a contributor to both poor local air quality and climate change.
At Environmental Defense Fund, we believe that environmental progress and economic growth can and must go hand in hand. EDF+Business works with leading companies and investors to raise the bar for corporate sustainability leadership by setting aggressive, science-based goals; collaborating for scale across industries and global supply chains; publicly supporting smart environmental safeguards; and, accelerating environmental innovation.
This is the sixth in a series of interviews exploring trends in sustainability leadership as part of our effort to pave the way to a thriving economy and a healthy environment.
I’ve worked with many business leaders over the course of my career, and there are few more forward-thinking on sustainability and environmental innovation than Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc.
As head of the largest independent maker of diesel engines and related products in the world, Tom has set lofty environmental goals for Cummins, including cutting energy intensity from company facilities by a third by 2020.
Under Tom’s leadership, sustainability and community engagement have become core parts of company culture – including efforts to establish technical education programs around the world to lift youth out of poverty and publicly favoring tough, science-based and enforceable environmental regulations.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Tom and learn more about the formation of Cummins’ sustainability goals and the importance of long-term protective standards in the trucking industry.
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.
As the dog days of summer expire and football season approaches, many sports fans will anxiously scan their favorite team’s rosters for training camp injuries–finding everything from the innocuous, to the dreaded torn Achilles that already sidelined several pro players for the season’s start.
When it comes to the energy industry, methane emissions loom as the Achilles heel of natural gas. On the surface, natural gas appears to many as a star American player – abundant and cleaner burning than coal.
But unchecked methane emissions, which are 84 times more potent than CO2, undercut natural gas’ climate change performance.
This risk has grown particularly acute because the recently finalized Clean Power Plan, which targets carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, casts natural gas as part of a viable near-term strategy to win the climate game.
The spotlight on natural gas’ performance is only growing as more viewers tune in.
The difference is, while there is no sure-fire way to prevent an Achilles tear on the athletic field, we have the means at our fingertips to dramatically reduce methane emissions and help natural gas become a stronger player that puts more points on the board for the economy and climate.
New EPA methane rules announced Tuesday can be an important step if finalized in strong form, yielding four business benefits: Read more