Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) welcomed the decision by the United States and Canada to endorse the World Bank's 'Zero Routine Gas Flaring by 2030' initiative, which aims to end a practice that wastes billions of cubic meters of natural gas and pours millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The pledge by the two countries, announced on 10 March as part of a broader commitment to combating climate change, brings to 18 the number of governments endorsing the initiative. Twenty oil companies and 11 development institutions have also signed up so far.
"This significant step by the United States and Canada is a major milestone in the push to stop a shockingly wasteful and polluting practice that simply doesn't need to happen," said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of SE4All.
Every year, around 140 billion cubic metres of natural gas is routinely burned or "flared" at thousands of oil fields around the world. This results in more than 300 million tons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere - equivalent to emissions from approximately 77 million cars.
If this amount of gas were used for power generation, it could provide more electricity than the entire African continent is consuming today.
"Turning gas that is currently being flared to productive use can help provide energy for the 1.1 billion people who currently have none," Kyte said.
The 'Zero Routine Gas Flaring by 2030' initiative was launched in May 2015 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim under the umbrella of SE4All.
Endorsers commit to ensuring that new oil fields will be developed without routine flaring and to eliminating ongoing routine flaring as soon as possible, and in any case no later than 2030.