Are Leaks from Oil & Gas the Biggest Source of Methane Emissions?

This Facebook post claims that; “The biggest source of methane pollution is from leaks in oil and gas operations and in leaky pipes…”


Greenhouse gas emissions emanating from methane have been on the rise in recent years, with the rise in industrialization according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). “The concentration of methane in the atmosphere is currently around two-and-half times greater than pre-industrial levels and is increasing steadily. This rise has important implications for climate change,” an IEA report states, further citing that natural sources account for 40% of methane emissions, and 60% from human activities. 


The growing human-caused methane emissions come from all three sectors: fossil fuels, agriculture and waste. However, contrary to the Facebook post, the IEA notes that; 

“The largest source of anthropogenic (also human-caused) methane emissions is agriculture, responsible for around a quarter of the total.”

This, the report adds, is closely followed by the energy sector, which includes emissions from coal, oil, natural gas and biofuels.

Besides the IEA, the UN’s 2021 global methane emissions report also shows that agriculture is the biggest source of methane emissions, producing 40% of human-caused methane emissions over fossil fuels (entailing oil and gas), which contribute to 35% of methane emissions. Data on this report indicates that agricultural emissions that involve enteric fermentation and manure emit 110 million tonnes of methane over oil and gas’ 83 million tonnes. See screengrab below;


The claim that leaks from oil and gas operations are the biggest source of methane emissions is FALSE.

This fact-check was produced by Africa Uncensored with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact-Checking Alliance network.

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