U.S. Unveils New Rules to Cut Methane Emissions at Global Climate Conference

New federal standards will significantly reduce emissions and ensure a healthier future for birds and people.
A blackbird sits on a dry brown plant fanning out its wings and tail.
Red-winged Blackbird. Photo: Mohammed Arif/Audubon Photography Awards

DUBAI (December 2, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced finalized rules that would limit methane emissions and other harmful air pollutants from new and existing oil and gas operations, as well as crack down on methane leaks and flaring. The announcement was made at the UN climate conference (COP 28) in Dubai.  

“Today’s announcement is a significant step toward a healthier, climate safe future for people and wildlife, and we applaud the Biden administration for making this a priority,” said Sarah Rose, vice president of climate at the National Audubon Society. “While there is still much work to do to reduce carbon emissions, protect landscapes like wetlands and forests that store carbon naturally, and invest in renewable energy, addressing methane emissions is crucial to our shared survival.” 

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that is responsible for roughly one-third of current warming resulting from human activities. Oil and natural gas operations are the largest industrial source of methane in the U.S. One ton of methane released into the atmosphere causes more than 80 times as much warming as one ton of carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period.  So while carbon dioxide is the main driver of warming over the long-run, the rate of warming in the short-term is largely driven by methane pollution. Accordingly, reducing methane is a critical factor in protecting communities and ecosystems that people and wildlife depend on . 

Two-thirds of North American bird species will be vulnerable to extinction if global temperatures are allowed to rise at the current rate. Reducing emissions from greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane will help alleviate some of the worst effects of climate change. 

Media Contact: Robyn Shepherd, robyn.shepherd@audubon.org

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas towards a future where birds thrive because Audubon is a powerful, diverse, and ever-growing force for conservation. Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the hemisphere and more than 1.5 million active supporters. North America has lost three billion birds since 1970, and more than 500 bird species are at risk of extinction across Latin America and the Caribbean. Birds act as early warning systems about the health of our environment, and they tell us that birds – and our planet – are in crisis. Together as one Audubon, we are working to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss. We do this by implementing on-the-ground conservation, partnering with local communities, influencing public and corporate policy, and building community. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety.