Some of the world’s biggest oil companies announced an unexpected pledge over the weekend that they would slash methane emissions from their wells and drilling by more than 80 percent by 2030 in an effort to curb methane gas emissions. The announcement comes during the UN’s annual climate conference, COP28, happening in Dubai.

If you would like more context on this matter, please consider Robert Orttung, a research professor of international affairs at the George Washington University and the director of research at Sustainability GW. Orttung is leading two National Science Foundation grants focused on promoting urban sustainability in the Arctic and is serving as the editor of the forthcoming Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities.

Orttung will be attending COP28 this week as part of a GW delegation with GW students, where they will be presenting their research efforts around climate change.

Orttung says there’s great opportunity to work with oil and gas companies in finding productive ways to combat the climate crisis.

“Obviously, it’s a little ironic to have a climate change conference in a Petro state, which depends heavily on selling oil and gas, but that might be the actual solution is trying to find a way to work with these companies that make their money now from selling fossil fuels. They might be the main people blocking progress, but it might also be a useful way to think about how they can use the enormous leverage and resources that they have, incredible financial gain from fossil fuels, and put that into renewable energy. That’s something we’re seeing in the Middle East starting to happen.

One strategy could be to constantly attack [these companies]. The other strategy would be to figure out ways to work together, and I’m hoping we can do something like that." 

WATCH: Hear more from Prof. Orttung about GW’s role at COP28 and the key themes he’ll be paying attention to at this year’s UN climate conference in this video here