Electroreduction uses renewable energy to upgrade carbon dioxide to value-added chemicals and fuels. Renewable methane synthesized using such a route stands to be readily deployed using existing infrastructure for the distribution and utilization of natural gas. Here we design a suite of ligand-stabilized metal oxide clusters and find that these modulate carbon dioxide reduction pathways on a copper catalyst, enabling thereby a record activity for methane electroproduction. Density functional theory calculations show adsorbed hydrogen donation from clusters to copper active sites for the *CO hydrogenation pathway towards *CHO. We promote this effect via control over cluster size and composition and demonstrate the effect on metal oxides including cobalt(II), molybdenum(VI), tungsten(VI), nickel(II) and palladium(II) oxides. We report a carbon dioxide-to-methane faradaic efficiency of 60% at a partial current density to methane of 135 milliampere per square centimetre. We showcase operation over 18 h that retains a faradaic efficiency exceeding 55%.