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Media Contact:

Justin Wasser, (202) 753.7016, jwasser@earthworks.org

Washington, DC – Certified gas programs are likely highly unreliable and ineffective, resulting in increased threats to health and climate from the oil and gas industry, according to a new report by Oil Change International and EarthworksCertified Disaster: How Project Canary & Gas Certification are Misleading Gas Markets & Governments examines the rapid growth in  “certified gas” and exposes on-the-ground failures to detect oil & gas pollution by one of the largest certifiers of methane gas.

The oil & gas industry is increasingly hiring companies like Project Canary to certify their operations as meeting a certain standard. While no standards exist for the certification process, companies are racing ahead to charge a premium for certified gas and secure contracts and expand markets for a greenwashed product. 

Methane pollution must be significantly reduced within this decade to avoid a worst-case climate crisis scenario. In the US, the oil and gas industry is the number one source of methane gas pollution and has justified its continued expansion, in part, with certification programs that promise to measure emissions from operations and “certify” that emissions meet a certain lower-polluting standard. 

Field investigations by optical gas imaging experts at Earthworks documented nearly two dozen instances [1] in which Project Canary and similar monitoring technologies failed to capture significant pollution events.This evidence calls into question the degree to which gas certification process is misleading gas markets, giving consumers and investors a false sense of security about the environmental impacts of methane gas. 

Key Points: 

  • Project Canary monitors consistently fail to detect pollution events: Oil and gas certified-thermographers captured alarming evidence of Project Canary monitors failing to detect emissions in the field. 
  • Greenwashing: Project Canary’s marketing aggressively positions its certification services as a means to justify continued fossil fuel extraction, despite IPCC and IEA insistence that fossil fuel production and consumption must rapidly decline to avoid climate catastrophe., (i.e.Project Canary CEO Chris Romer told an interviewer, in September 2022, that “people need to understand that this is the cleanest carbon on the planet, and we need to bring two billion people out of poverty with this enormously clean carbon fuel.”
  • Lack of Transparency: Despite claims of ‘radical transparency’ and third-party verification, there is limited access for regulators, academics, or the public to confirm data generated in the certification process. 
  • Conflicts of Interest: Evidence suggests that a key Project Canary Director and Advisory Board Members have direct financial investments in the same gas companies it certifies.

The report recommends federal oversight for gas certification programs that ensure the protection of communities and the accuracy of emissions reductions. The report also calls for greater transparency and accountability for gas certification and a verifiable commitment to transition away from methane gas to truly clean and renewable energy sources in line with climate science.

The report comes just as the European Parliament considers methane regulations requiring fossil fuel imports into the EU, such as US Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), to meet emissions criteria. This report makes clear that current efforts by US gas producers and exporters to quantify and report the emissions associated with their cargoes cannot be trusted. It is imperative that the EU and other importers adopt the recommendations in this report as minimum criteria for documentation of methane emissions associated with gas imports.

Lorne Stockman, Research Co-Director at Oil Change International and report author said: 

“Certified gas is being used to greenwash US gas and LNG, creating a false narrative that expanded use of methane gas plays a role in the energy transition. This is simply not true. Our report shows that Project Canary is misleading the public and investors about the true impacts of methane gas and must be held accountable. It’s time to end the greenwashing of gas and focus on genuine climate solutions such as energy efficiency, electrification, and renewable energy.”

Josh Eisenfeld Corporate Accountability Campaign Manager at Earthworks and report author said:

“History shows us that global problems attract snake oil salesmen, trying to make money pawning off false solutions. We cannot afford to put support behind the next Theranos of climate solutions. Over and over again we found that the monitors Project Canary uses to certify gas were failing to detect significant pollution events in the field, the very pollution that they claim to be monitoring. What we found in the field is just further evidence of what we have been hearing from industry insiders: Gas certification is unproven, unregulated nonsense. ” 

Methane gas pollution must be immediately reduced and fossil fuel production abated to avoid the worst climate outcomes. Methane is a climate super-pollutant that traps over 80 times more heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide and is responsible for roughly 30% of the global warming we are experiencing today. Research shows that the oil and gas within extraction projects the industry has already developed would take the world beyond 1.5°C of warming, even if coal production stopped overnight.