The ripple effect of the UK’s leadership in methane emission reduction has meant that major players like the US and Canada have followed suit. Now that all the cool kids are doing it, we can expect to see more nations adopting similar measures – impacting the price of food and energy and propelling nations to turn to clean energy and AI technology to help navigate this transition.
The methane pledge: not just hot air
As nations rally to combat climate change, the spotlight has turned to methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Nowhere was this focus more evident than at this year’s COP28 summit in Dubai. The summit saw significant steps towards reducing methane emissions, with countries like the US, and Canada proposing new rules and regulations on the agriculture and oil & gas sectors. Why is this important? Many reasons. But I’ll give you four:
- Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the short term. In fact, at least 25% of today’s global warming is driven by methane from human actions, such as oil & gas operations, agriculture, and solid waste landfills. This means that these restrictions could make a real and rapid difference in cooling our planet.
- These emission reduction proposals could help set a precedent for other countries, especially those rich in agriculture and oil & gas, leading to more coordinated and impactful global efforts to reduce methane emissions.
- The impact of such regulations on the economies of affected countries could be significant, prompting higher food and energy prices and a greater demand for renewables and energy-optimising technology.
- Policymakers, oil & gas producers, and those in the waste management and agriculture sectors will increasingly turn to AI tools to help them track, monitor, capture, and reduce methane emissions.
Methane reduction: a global effort
The importance of methane reduction efforts isn’t lost on the rest of the world. Just this November, the EU made the decisive move to agree on a law that limits methane emissions from oil & gas imports from 2030 onwards. What’s more, the UK was one of the first to sign the Global Methane Pledge back at COP26 in 2021, promising to reduce human made methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
Already, the UK has made great strides towards this goal. In fact, in the energy sector alone, the UK has managed to reduce their methane emissions by 84% in the last two decades. But, while methane reductions are beneficial for our climate, the restrictions placed on the energy and agriculture sectors might have energy and agriculture-producing countries tightening their belts even more.
The economic implications of methane regulations
This is something that Dr Valeri Sokolovski, Assistant Professor of Finance of the University of Alberta, cautions us on. “The UK has done a tremendous job in reducing their methane emissions, but their efforts have plateaued in the last few years. At the same time, the UK is experiencing the highest inflation out of all the G7 advanced economies, which has primarily been driven by food and gas prices. Reducing any more methane for the UK will be associated with higher costs for its agriculture and energy sectors… and these costs will inevitably end up affecting final consumers, including businesses and households. In short, while methane emission reductions are clearly essential for climate health, they’re likely to drive up prices for energy and food in the short term.”
This prediction is grounded in the fact that transitioning to more sustainable practices in these sectors requires significant investments. In fact, in the oil & gas sector, there is an average cost of $520 for each ton of methane reduced.
AI’s role in methane reduction
To mitigate these economic and environmental challenges, AI technology emerges as a critical ally. Its application ranges from early detection and monitoring of methane leaks (reducing equipment downtime, maintenance costs, and operational inefficiencies). In the agricultural sector, for example, AI can assist in analysing farming practices, suggesting improvements to reduce emissions and reduce waste. And for waste management, AI tools can enhance the efficiency of waste processing and methane capture.
The benefits of these kinds of technologies have spurred the UK, US, and Canada to invest considerable amounts into clean technology and renewable energy sources – and as their energy landscape rapidly changes, scalable solutions that can help manage this transition are becoming increasingly in demand. The main reason for this is that AI solutions are very often fast, flexible, and cost effective to implement at scale on a global basis.
But AI isn’t only going to be useful for largescale industries navigating the transition toward reduced methane emissions. As Dr Sokolovski points out, oil & gas prices will increase due to tighter emissions policies, causing individuals and businesses to look for energy-optimising solutions. “As a result, we’ll see AI increasingly being deployed in, for example, large buildings to optimise energy consumption, making its way into HVAC systems and energy management systems to ensure no kilowatt hour is wasted.”
Moving with the times: technology as a response to change
We might say that this growing reliance on AI could, in part, be seen as a testament to the global momentum towards reducing methane emissions. That’s because these efforts, led by the likes of the UK, EU, US, and Canada are fuelling a wave of advancements in clean technology and AI -reshaping how both businesses and consumers approach their energy consumption.
As methane restrictions increase energy prices in emissions-conscious countries, the push towards renewable energy and AI-enhanced optimisation tools will only become more pronounced. This transition, while challenging, offers a promising avenue for sustainable growth and innovation, positioning technology at the forefront of environmental stewardship and economic resilience.
Sam Ramadori is the CEO of BrainBox AI. To date, he has played a vital role in expansion and adoption through his internal leadership and development of external relationships with strategic partners, organisations, investors, and other key stakeholders