The research outputs from the The Methane and Environment Programme (MEP) have already had a positive impact on industry and policy makers in a variety of ways.

Here are some examples of where our research and expertise has been used to guide decisions on reducing emissions:

  • MEP played a key role in the development of the ‘Guiding Principles of Methane’, an agreement signed by eight of the largest oil and gas companies to commit to monitor and reduce supply chain emissions in November 2017.
  • Our work has been cited by the UK Committee on Climate Change report on the compatability of UK onshore oil and gas development with climate targets (July 2016) and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies report on methane emissions (July 2017).
  • We also contributed to, and were cited by, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook special report on natural gas (November 2017).
  • The Programme has advised the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  • Internationally, we have presented at the European Parliament on methane emissions from the energy industry in 2018, and the UN Palais de Nations for the UNECE Group of Experts on Gas in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  • Dr Paul Balcombe gave the keynote presentation at the International Gas Union Methane Emissions Conference in London, March 2017.

Since the programme began in 2015, we have produced a set of key research outputs including white papers, journal articles and presentations.

White papers

Balcombe, P., Anderson, K., Speirs, J., Brandon, N., and Hawkes A. (2015) ‘Methane & CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain report’ Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London.

The Sustainable Gas Institute’s first White Paper is a comprehensive evidence-based review of the available data on both methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural supply chain. The paper provides recommendations with the aim of assessing and improving climate mitigation potential at each stage in the chain.



BibTex format

author = {Balcombe, P and Anderson, K and Speirs, J and Brandon, N and Hawkes, A},
doi = {10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b00144},
journal = {ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering},
pages = {3--20},
title = {The natural gas supply chain: the importance of methane and carbon dioxide emissions},
url = {},
volume = {5},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Natural gas is typically considered to be the cleaner-burning fossil fuel that could play an important role within a restricted carbon budget. While natural gas emits less CO2 when burned than other fossil fuels, its main constituent is methane, which has a much stronger climate forcing impact than CO2 in the short term. Estimates of methane emissions in the natural gas supply chain have been the subject of much controversy, due to uncertainties associated with estimation methods, data quality, and assumptions used. This Perspective presents a comprehensive compilation of estimated CO2 and methane emissions across the global natural gas supply chain, with the aim of providing a balanced insight for academia, industry, and policy makers by summarizing the reported data, locating the areas of major uncertainty, and identifying where further work is needed to reduce or remove this uncertainty. Overall, the range of documented estimates of methane emissions across the supply chain is vast among an aggregation of different geological formations, technologies, plant age, gas composition, and regional regulation, not to mention differences in estimation methods. Estimates of combined methane and CO2 emissions ranged from 2 to 42 g CO2 eq/MJ HHV, while methane-only emissions ranged from 0.2% to 10% of produced methane. The methane emissions at the extraction stage are the most contentious issue, with limited data available but potentially large impacts associated with well completions for unconventional gas, liquids unloading, and also the transmission stage. From the range of literature estimates, a constrained range of emissions was estimated that reflects the most recent and reliable estimates: total supply chain GHG emissions were estimated to be between 3.6 and 42.4 g CO2 eq/MJ HHV, with a central estimate of 10.5. The presence of “super emitters”, a small number of facilities or equipment that cause extremely high emissions, is found across all supply chai
AU - Balcombe,P
AU - Anderson,K
AU - Speirs,J
AU - Brandon,N
AU - Hawkes,A
DO - 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b00144
EP - 20
PY - 2016///
SN - 2168-0485
SP - 3
TI - The natural gas supply chain: the importance of methane and carbon dioxide emissions
T2 - ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
UR -
UR -
VL - 5
ER -