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Oil’s methane emissions higher than feared

LONDON, 6 February, 2017 – Global methane emissions from oil production between 1980 and 2012 were far higher than previously thought – in some cases, as much as double the amount previously estimated, according to a new scientific study

The reason for the discrepancy is simple. The author of the study − which also includes emissions of another gas, ethane − says it is the first to take into account different production management systems and geological conditions around the world.

Lena Höglund-Isaksson, senior research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, describes the old figures, which were based on arguing that what happened in North American oilfields applied equally to the rest of the world, as “rather simplistic”.

The IIASA study, published in Environmental Research Letters journal, is another reminder that climate science – like all science – is only as dependable as the data on which it relies.

In a system as complex as the atmosphere, faulty data can have far-reaching consequences.

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