Recent data shows that for the world to stay on track with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), fossil fuel operations must reduce their methane emissions by 75% by 2030. These findings were released just days before industry leaders and government representatives convened for the annual Global Methane Forum — a platform to share methane reduction techniques, policies, financing options and regulations and help ramp up methane mitigation efforts.

According to the Global Methane Assessment, human induced methane emissions can be decreased by up to 45% in this decade through cost-effective measures. Reductions of this kind would prevent almost 0.3 degrees C of warming by 2045 and would be in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5-degree-C goal. However, efforts targeting methane-emitting industries are not without some social risk.

To avoid causing an undue burden on impacted workers or communities — and to ensure equitable access to the benefits and opportunities of this transition — national governments need to incorporate just transition elements into all methane mitigation planning. This will ensure that workers, communities and other stakeholders affected by the transition are protected and supported during planning efforts and implementation.  

Climate and Social Impacts of Reducing Methane Emissions

Mitigating methane emissions can significantly reduce near-term warming. Yet, methane has historically received less attention in climate policy than carbon dioxide. Recent developments signal that this is shifting. For example, the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) aims to reduce human-caused methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. The pledge has garnered significant support, with 156 countries committing to voluntary actions across key methane-emitting sectors such as agriculture, energy and waste (which are responsible for 40%, 35% and 20% of anthropogenic methane emissions, respectively). 

Efforts to decrease methane emissions will likely come with economic benefits, such as reducing the financial burden of treating ozone-related diseases. However, there will also be some disadvantages, such as the short-term cost associated with purchasing methane mitigation technologies. To ensure that the benefits, challenges and opportunities of methane mitigation are equally distributed across households, communities and industries, governments must incorporate just transition components into methane mitigation planning.

As described by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a just transition “needs to be well managed and contribute to the goals of decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty.” The ILO's Guidelines for a Just Transition outline how to pursue a transition across a variety of contexts while promoting the rights of workers, ensuring social protection mechanisms, and moving toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy. By reflecting these just transition principles in methane mitigation planning, governments can help ensure that methane mitigation efforts address social, economic and environmental sustainability simultaneously.

Incorporating Just Transition Elements into Methane Mitigation Planning

Mitigating methane emissions will require a variety of actions across different sectors. Each of these actions must incorporate just transition considerations.

Agricultural sector

In agriculture, mitigating methane emissions requires a multifaceted approach involving changes in livestock and manure management as well as rice cultivation practices. These measures can offer important co-benefits, such as improved water management and soil fertility. However, equitable implementation is crucial. Countries with large populations of smallholder farmers and gender disparities in land ownership must implement inclusive policies and targeted support to ensure equitable access to mitigation technologies and practices.

One technique that has been widely encouraged, especially on farms that produce large quantities of methane, is the use of “biogas digesters.” These capture and utilize methane emissions from animal waste to generate energy. By capturing biogas from manure, farmers (for example, those in Asia) can generate energy for household use. However, biogas digesters can be costly to purchase, and their use requires farmer training and sensitization. For biogas digesters to become ubiquitous in manure management, governments must engage with relevant stakeholders to determine the context-specific barriers to implementation. This will help ensure that farmers are not burdened by adoption of this technology and that social, economic and environmental benefits can be achieved.

Oil and gas sector

Many opportunities to reduce methane emissions within the oil and gas sector could be implemented at a low cost or even save money. These measures include upstream and downstream leak detection and repair; recovery and utilization of vented gas; improved control of fugitive emissions from production; regular inspections of sites to detect leaks; capping unused wells; and pre-mining degasification, recovery and oxidation of ventilated methane from coal mines.

In the United States, the EPA has issued a Proposed Performance Standard for Methane Emissions that is projected to create over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs annually. However, job quality and worker safety must be prioritized to ensure that employment opportunities in methane mitigation contribute to sustainable livelihoods and social development.

In Texas, for example — which produces more oil and gas than any other U.S. state — the sector employs a large share of construction workers in jobs that are manually intensive and potentially dangerous. Yet, Texas is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t require workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In a survey conducted by the Workers’ Defense Project, only 40% of surveyed construction workers in Texas reported having any workers’ compensation coverage, while 78% said they lacked health insurance. For methane mitigation jobs to contribute to better livelihoods and economic and social development, industries must collaborate with workers to ensure that these jobs are safe, provide the necessary training, and offer fair, livable wages.   

Waste sector

In the waste sector, strategies like waste separation, composting and landfill gas capture can reduce methane emissions while fostering circular economies and creating jobs. However, inclusive policies are imperative to address the needs of informal waste pickers and vulnerable communities that can be affected by waste management reforms. An estimated 20 million people around the world currently work as informal waste pickers, and changes to waste management by governments can risk leaving them behind as more waste collection becomes privatized.

For waste management solutions to address both climate and development opportunities, they must be based on stakeholder dialogue, with careful consideration of how to include and benefit vulnerable groups. Given the inherently risky nature of waste collection and management, workplace protections must also be put in place so that workers can earn a decent living without concern for their safety.  

Existing Methane Action Plans Do Not Meaningfully Reflect Just Transition Elements

Many countries are already working on plans to address methane emissions. To assist countries in developing these plans, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) created the National Methane Roadmap Template; this allows governments to communicate their commitments on methane mitigation and explain how such commitments will be achieved through a Methane Action Plan (MAP) or an Implementation Roadmap. To date, over 75 governments have actively engaged in methane roadmap development and 57 are nearing completion. As of March 2024, 12 countries and the European Union had published MAPs outlining national policies and actions that are currently underway or in the works.

However, these plans fall short when it comes to incorporating just transition components.

A new criterion, based on the ILO’s Guidelines for a Just Transition, was created to determine the extent to which just transition elements appear in existing Methane Action Plans. These elements include stakeholder dialogue, social protections, support for workers and distributional impact. An analysis of existing MAPs using these criteria revealed that while six out of 12 mention how stakeholder inputs contributed to the plan, only two describe in detail how the plans were built on stakeholder dialogues. Just four out of the 12 plans consider impact on vulnerable groups; another four consider distributional impacts; and five mention support for the training, reskilling of workers or compensation for job loss.

Below is a summary of existing Methane Action Plans.

  • Brazil’s Methane Action Plan primarily targets methane emissions from urban and agricultural organic waste. The Zero Methane National Program aims to convert landfills into energy sources and create green jobs. However, there is currently a lack of clarity regarding stakeholder engagement and consideration of vulnerable groups.
  • Canada’s Methane Action Plan targets methane emissions from various sectors with a focus on oil and gas, agriculture and waste. While stakeholder engagement is highlighted, there is limited information on support for workers and distributional impacts.
  • China’s Methane Action Plan prioritizes methane monitoring and emission control across its energy, agriculture and waste sectors. Details on stakeholder engagement and social protections are lacking.
  • The European Union’s Methane Action Plan integrates methane reduction into existing climate policies with a focus on the agriculture, waste and energy sectors. Despite its level of detail on policies for addressing methane emissions, there needs to be clearer consideration of vulnerable groups and workers.
  • Finland’s Methane Action Plan integrates methane reduction into sectoral strategies with a focus on collaboration with stakeholders. Limited information is provided on support for workers and distributional impacts.
  • Iceland’s Methane Action Plan incorporates methane reduction into existing climate policies, paying specific attention to agriculture. Details on stakeholder engagement and distributional impacts are lacking.
  • The Netherlands has included methane mitigation opportunities as part of its Draft Climate Change Policy and Dutch Climate Policy across all three methane emitting sectors. However, there is only mention of subsidies schemes to help farmer workers transition to circular agriculture.
  • Norway’s Methane Action Plan targets methane emissions from the energy, waste and agriculture sectors with a focus on policy integration. While stakeholder engagement is mentioned, details on support for workers and vulnerable groups are scarce.
  • The Republic of Korea’s Methane Action Plan aims to reduce methane emissions through mitigation technologies and policy enactment, but its plan is short on details regarding stakeholder engagement and social protections.
  • Sweden integrates methane reduction into its climate policies, with a focus on stakeholder engagement and support for farmers. There's a need, however, for clearer consideration of vulnerable groups.
  • The United Kingdom’s Methane Memorandum: The U.K.'s plan targets overall GHG reduction, with the most significant achievements in methane reduction from the waste and energy sectors already achieved between 1990-2020. The U.K. continues to explore and implement additional measures to secure future progress in methane. Limited information is provided on stakeholder engagement and support for workers.
  • The United States’ Methane Action Plan targets methane emissions across various sectors with a focus on stakeholder engagement and support for workers. Clear consideration of vulnerable groups and distributional impacts is evident.
  • Vietnam’s Methane Action Plan outlines clear methane reduction targets and actions with some emphasis on stakeholder engagement and support for workers. However, there's a need for clearer consideration of vulnerable groups.

Table: Core Just Transition Elements Mentioned in Methane Action Plans

CountryStakeholder DialogueSocial ProtectionsSupport for WorkersDistributional Impact
European Union    
Republic of Korea    
United Kingdom    
United States    


Key for Table

Without Mention 
Briefly Mentioned 
Discussed in Detail 


Of all the countries examined, only three specify economy-wide methane reduction targets in their MAPs. Six countries consider their respective methane reduction targets to be covered under broader GHG reduction strategies. Three contain no mention of an economy-wide methane target at all.

With the exception of the United States’ MAP, most plans only briefly touch on the four just transition elements analyzed or do not mention them at all. While the U.S. plan covers all elements thoroughly, it notably does not communicate a specific methane reduction target.

Collaboration Is Key to Progress

Incorporating just transition components into methane mitigation planning can help ensure that benefits and opportunities are shared by all, and that challenges or burdens are minimized and managed. This will require close collaboration across stakeholders throughout multi-country geographic regions and respective government ministries, including:

Fostering multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue

  • Governments, industries, labor unions, environmental organizations and community groups should collaborate to develop methane mitigation plans. Plans should reflect diverse perspectives and interests to address the concerns and needs of all parties.

Facilitating regional collaboration

  • Sharing national-level experiences and information on just transition approaches across regions can promote knowledge sharing, capacity building and mutual support.
  • Regional networks and partnerships provide opportunities for collaboration on methane action planning and implementation.
  • Collaboration can mobilize resources and promote solidarity in addressing common concerns.

Promoting knowledge and capacity building

  • Sharing expertise, resources and best practices across ministries enhances development of comprehensive methane action plans.
  • Inter-ministerial working groups enable dialogue, coordination, and joint decision-making for integrating social and economic considerations into methane mitigation strategies.
  • Capacity building empowers government officials to effectively implement just transition policies and initiatives.

Key Takeaways

Successful methane mitigation planning requires the integration of just transition components to protect and support workers, communities and other stakeholders affected by the transition. Efforts to reduce methane emissions across sectors such as agriculture, energy and waste offer economic advantages and challenges, necessitating inclusive policies and stakeholder engagement.

Existing Methane Action Plans are a step in the right direction. But they fall short of meaningfully reflecting just transition elements. This highlights the need for clearer consideration of vulnerable groups, social protections and support for workers in future planning and implementation efforts. By incorporating these elements, governments can ensure that methane mitigation efforts contribute to social, economic and environmental sustainability simultaneously.