Kayrros and BNP Paribas join hands to accelerate methane abatement

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for an estimated one third of global warming to date and projected to cause roughly half of the temperature change of the next 20 years on current trends. Methane has more than 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years.

The fossil fuels sector accounts for an estimated 33% of anthropogenic methane emissions. But most of the methane emissions from the sector could be reduced with existing technology as per the IEA’s Methane Tracker 2023. According to a 2021 UN report, eliminating all super-emitters of methane (infrastructures that emit methane at high rates) from the oil and gas sector could shave as much as 0.3°C off global warming by 2045, and 0.5°C by 2100.

The European Union’s leading bank BNP Paribas has struck a landmark agreement with environmental intelligence firm Kayrros to improve their knowledge of the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions. This is a concrete step towards a better understanding of methane emissions from large emitters as well as of their measurement and reporting management system. This could become an important element for banks transitioning their lending and investment portfolios in line with low carbon pathways.

BNP Paribas committed in April 2021 to align its financings’ and investments’ GHG emissions with net zero pathways by 2050, consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

The goal of the R&D partnership is to improve the understanding of oil and gas companies strategy to achieve the methane abatement goals of IPCC (AR6). In doing so, BNP Paribas intends to contribute to the toolkit available to banks for achieving their own decarbonization targets and meet their commitment to align with net zero pathways by 2050, consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. Such GHG emissions pathways involve the reduction of global methane emissions by 34% by 2030 relative to 2019, on average, according to the IPCC.

Kayrros Methane Watch is the first global platform made available commercially to private players to systematically track large methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and other sectors at a very high temporal resolution. It is used by international organisations including the UN Environment Programme’s International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) and the International Energy Agency’s Methane Tracker.

Kayrros uses artificial intelligence to process millions of satellite images from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus constellation daily and track methane emissions globally with high scientific accuracy.

The R&D partnership will draw on Kayrros’ expertise in tracking methane super-emitters globally through satellite imaging and AI, as well as measuring the methane intensity of many of the world’s largest oil and gas production basins using the same technologies. BNP Paribas teams intend to build on these tracking methane emissions technologies to work towards developing more accurate portfolio-level methane metrics using different modelling techniques, including geospatial data analytics.

This project aims to supplement the corpus of knowledge and research available about methane emissions quantification using satellite imaging as part of the bank commitment to develop open-source methodologies and tools to measure climate alignment. It will help assessing to what extent satellite imaging could be used by the financial industry to contribute to measuring methane abatement efforts.

In the last two years, scientists at Stanford University have conducted two blind tests of satellite measurements of methane emissions in which Kayrros participated. Both studies confirmed the consistent reliability and high accuracy of Kayrros measurements, and showed that the spatial resolution and sensitivity of cost-efficient satellite detection was on a par with those of targeted aerial campaigns. The first of these studies was released in Nature(Opens in a new tab); the other study is awaiting publication. Due to the intermittency of large emissions, the global coverage and high frequency of satellite monitoring also makes it possible to capture more emissions events than can be detected by other means.

Laurence Pessez, Global Head of CSR for BNP Paribas, said this R&D partnership is meant to contribute to the methane emissions measurement and allocation research literature. Indeed, by leveraging on high quality extra-financial data and cutting-edge modelling techniques, including AI and satellite imaging in methane emissions quantification we strive to increase knowledge of O&G sector technicalities. This project will support the development of accurate portfolio-level methane metrics by the financial industry as it brings a complementary outside-in view of oil and gas companies’ methane footprint starting with the world’s 42 biggest hydrocarbons producers that are not necessarily BNP Paribas clients. It will be part of BNP Paribas’ commitment to contribute to the development of open-source climate alignment methodologies and tools.

Antoine Rostand, president of Kayrros, said the company was pleased to be supporting BNP Paribas and welcomed the bank’s commitment to contribute to the modelling of more accurate climate data adding that BNP Paribas’ leadership on sustainable investment will contribute to incentivizing companies to decarbonize. ‘Our R&D partnership will also support and strengthen BNP Paribas’ continuous quest of improved accuracy concerning their own portfolio climate performance and their compliance with IPCC recommendations. We hope that our collaboration will lead to meaningful cross-sector improvements in monitoring, data analysis, transparency, and harm prevention.’

Kayrros, which has emerged as one of the loudest voices calling for an emphasis on high-quality data as the basis for climate action, was recently named one of the 100 most influential companies in the world by TIME magazine and one of the top 10 most innovative companies in energy and sustainability for 2023 by the business media brand Fast Company. The Financial Times named Kayrros a Tech Champion for 2022.

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