The Austrian OMV states that in 2019 it caused 49,376 tons of methane emissions. Converted into CO2 equivalents, this amounts to 1.23 million tons per year. This is as much as 630,000 cars per year, which is slightly less than all cars registered in Vienna. At the same time, these are emissions that are emitted without fulfilling even the slightest benefit.
Although OMV strives to close these leaks, the seriousness of these assertions, as well as their technological feasibility, is open to doubt: In the last three years, there has been an annual increase in methane emissions. Borealis AG, in whose manufacturing processes gas is burned off or the climate-damaging gas escapes even unnoticed, still owes appropriate statistics to this.
Health-endangering effects of gas
Both methane and volatile organic compounds and other hydrocarbons found in natural gas are precursors for the creation of ozone. Ozone is a powerful irritant gas and a risk to human health. It can lead to respiratory tract problems (inflammatory changes), reduced lung function and reduced performance. Also the animal and plant world suffers from ozone pollution. The Institute for Sustainable Transformation Research estimates the value of annual harvest losses due to ozone at 11-18 billion dollars. Depending on the weather conditions, the uncontrolled escape of methane can have a negative impact on the air quality of the affected areas.
Gas is not a climate-friendly solution
Gas is many times more harmful to the climate when considering its entire cycle of use. The release of methane along the production chain is unpredictable and annihilates the supposed advantage of climate-friendly combustion. In addition, terms such as "climate-friendly" in connection with gas are misleading and illusory. The combustion of gas will always produce climate-damaging emissions. Like a cigarette does not become "health-friendly" or "health-protective" through a filter, fossil fuels like gas will never be good for the climate.
Further investments in gas infrastructure must be stopped, as they consolidate a highly climate-damaging business model for the coming decades, inhibit investment in other renewable energy systems and make it impossible to achieve the Paris climate goals - which were set to save the climate. For a truly climate-friendly energy system, we need investments in renewable energies - above all solar and wind energy, as well as battery storage systems, electric motors, heat pumps and the use of geothermics.