Reclusive Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most closed countries and a top methane emitter, said Monday that it would create a commission to reduce leaks of the potent planet heating gas.
Methane emissions generate around 30 percent of global warming and scientific reports have found that the gas-rich Central Asian state’s output is colossal.
The decision would be important for the world’s climate and came as an unexpected announcement from an authoritarian country that is largely shut off from the world.
It was signed by President Serdar Berdymukhamedov, who took over as president last year from his father Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
The Turkmen president “signed a resolution on the establishment of an interpectoral commission to reduce methane emissions,” said Turkmenistan’s official media of the energy sector, Nebit-Gaz.
The announcement came several days after Berdymukhamedov spoke with US climate envoy John Kerry by phone.
Covered in sand, Turkmenistan inherited a system of rusty gas and oil pipelines, from the Soviet era, suffering from a lack of investment.
Little information trickles out from Turkmenistan.
But with the help of satellite surveillance, scientists can track methane emissions and locate where the gas is being emitted.
NASA last year spotted a methane emission extending over more than 32 kilometres in the desert-covered country.
In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced the country — which sits on the fourth largest gas reserves in the world — alone generated a third of the main emissions detected by satellite.
According to an investigation by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Turkmenistan is a “super-emitter” of the potent gas into the atmosphere, with more than 1,000 sites leaking the gas.
“The worst single leak spewed the pollution at a rate equivalent to 67m running cars,” The Guardian found.
Methane remains in the atmosphere for only about 10 years, but has a much more powerful warming impact than CO2.
Atmospheric methane is the second largest contributor to climate change, after carbon dioxide.