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Capture the fugitive gas: Two ideas to design more effective policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

In a step toward a more sustainable, zero-carbon future, McCourt School assistant professor Raphael Calel and UC Santa Barbara assistant professor Paasha Mahdavi propose two ideas that would encourage companies to capture methane gas flared during the oil extraction process.

Capturing and using the methane that is released during oil extraction, known as fugitive gas emissions, and selling it as natural gas could be a cost-effective and pro-development means of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions with the right policies in place.

In a new study, supported by the Georgetown Environment Initiative’s Impact Program, McCourt assistant professor Raphael Calel and UC Santa Barbara assistant professor Paasha Mahdavi propose two ideas to help design more effective policies that will encourage companies to capture these fugitive gas emissions.

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Flaring and Venting

Fugitive gas emissions account for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year, and there are two ways to manage this gas—flaring and venting. Burning the methane gas as it comes out of the oil well transforms it into carbon dioxide , creating a giant flare that is visible from space.

Venting, by contrast, releases the methane gas directly into the air. Calel and Mahdavi explain that these […]

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