(SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, JULY 13, 2022) – As the world’s fifth largest economy and a state that is no stranger to the destructive impacts of climate change, California has been a leader in the fight against global temperature rise. On June 27th, Governor Gavin Newsom officially signed the California FY 2022-23 state budget, which includes an expansion of the state’s commitment to climate action in the form of the new Methane Accountability Program, a cutting-edge blueprint to monitor and track methane emission sources through remote satellite monitoring. The new $100 million initiative will not only confront the climate crisis through sustained monitoring and pinpoint quantification of methane super-emitters across all sectors, but will also help empower local communities and regulators to address air quality and health impacts from potential exposure to co-emitted toxic pollutants that otherwise remain undetected. The Methane Accountability Program expands California’s track record of addressing methane emissions, and climate change more broadly, with an ambition and focus on tangible results.
Tackling methane starts with making it visible. Currently, conventional methane emissions monitoring misses a significant number of leaks and malfunctions. According to the International Energy Association (IEA), methane emissions are underreported by 70 percent in the energy sector alone. The Methane Accountability Program will expand the number of satellites deployed for methane observations and unlock unprecedented weekly tracking and measurement of large methane emissions at the scale of individual facilities and equipment in a cost-effective way. These satellites will zero in on super-emitters – sources that emit volumes of methane greater than 25 kg/hr across the state.
The program is one of the fastest ways to cut methane pollution across the state, and will improve enforcement of emissions violations and accountability by directly delivering timely, high-quality, and actionable data into the hands of communities, decision makers, advocates, and other stakeholders. Methane mitigation across California will in turn reduce health impacts in local communities and further advance the state’s goal to slash methane emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
Methane is an ozone precursor and is often co-emitted with dangerous air toxins that devastate local communities, with communities of color facing disproportionate impacts. The Environmental Defense Fund finds that communities of color and people living in poverty are more likely to live within one mile of active oil and gas wells, particularly in California, as well as in the Southwest and Appalachia. This proximity to oil and gas wells, as well as emissions from animal agriculture and landfills, puts marginalized groups at greater risk of exposure to contaminated groundwater and air pollution. To address these disproportionate burdens, climate-centered philanthropies and organizations – including the Global Methane Hub – will provide funding to local environmental justice organizations so that they take the data provided by the Methane Accountability Program and leverage it towards disparity-closing solutions.
“In light of the disappointing Supreme Court decision against the Environmental Protection Agency, California continues to step up to the plate and the Methane Accountability Program is no different,” said Marcelo Mena, CEO of the Global Methane Hub – a global alliance of over 20 leading philanthropies and organizations dedicated to reducing global methane emissions by more than 30 percent by the year 2030. “Scientists have made it clear that the clock is ticking and cutting methane emissions offers us a fast track towards avoiding the worst climate crises. Governor Newsom and the California legislature recognize the urgency at hand. Their bold, decisive leadership is what we need to ensure our children have a planet to live and thrive on. We look forward to working with the state of California and our environmental justice partners to plug these methane leaks and lift the burden of polluted air off of local communities.”
“California and Governor Newsom are not afraid to stand up to super-emitters and tackle climate change head-on – the Methane Accountability Program is further proof of that,” said Richard Lawrence, Director and Co-Founder of High Tide Foundation. “This initiative will provide crucial data for both California’s leadership and outside organizations like ourselves so we can accelerate our collective efforts and ensure we reduce global warming before it’s too late.”
“Californians are already experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis via extreme droughts that put our farms at risk and megafires that endanger our communities and nature,” said Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “We know firsthand that we can’t wait any longer to reduce planet-warming emissions. By embracing approaches that promote rapid reduction of all greenhouse gases, including methane, California is taking its residents’ concerns seriously and demonstrating real leadership in addressing climate change.”
“Cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the scale we need requires more data, transparency, and accountability,” said Ailun Yang, who leads international climate initiatives for Bloomberg Philanthropies. “By increasing the information on methane super-emitters with the Methane Accountability Program, Governor Newsom is giving Californians critical information about their health and the environment so they can hold polluters accountable. Bloomberg Philanthropies is proud to support this initiative, which underscores the importance of governments, the private sector, and philanthropy working together on climate solutions around the world.”
“Reducing methane has outsized impact in advancing both our climate goals and significant social and health benefits, such as reducing asthma-related deaths,” said Nancy Lindborg, President and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “It is heartening to see California’s continued leadership on these issues with the Methane Accountability Program announced by Governor Newsom. Monitoring methane is the first vital step in progress, and this program will play a key role in addressing super-emitters, embracing new emissions-cutting strategies, and building healthier communities.”
“We have never been prouder of our governor and our state,” said Sandy Herz, who leads Sobrato Philanthropies. “Confronting climate change is an all-hands-on-deck challenge that requires each of us to lead with our strengths and unique capabilities. Governor Newsom’s Methane Accountability Program brings to bear our state government’s unique monitoring and enforcement capacity to drive meaningful change in reducing methane emissions and slow global warming for the communities most proximate to super-emitters, our state, and our global community.”
The Global Methane Hub was formed last year with a commitment of over $300 million which will be managed by the Global Methane Hub, with $200 million of the funding managed by the philanthropic funders under the direction of Mena. The commitment was formed by global philanthropies including High Tide Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Bloomberg Philanthropies and others, making it the largest private pledge to reduce methane emissions globally and significantly boost philanthropic resources allocated specifically to methane reduction. So far, the Hub has funded $23 million in 16 early action grants to support essential methane solutions and reducing emissions, driving private sector and government action to tackle methane emissions globally.