Over 100 countries sign up to cut their methane emissions by 2030

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New Global Methane Pledge has been announced by EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden on the second day of COP26.

Parties signing the Pledge agree to take national-level, voluntary actions to contribute to reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, using a 2020 baseline. Scientists believe this could eliminate 0.2°C of warming by 2050.

According to COP26 announcement, 105 countries in total have signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, including Brazil, Nigeria and Canada. This is stated to equate to up to 40% of global methane emissions and 60% of global GDP.

In her speech to launch the pledge, Ms von der Leyen stated: “When we talk about climate action, we look at two different horizons. There is one, of course, of climate neutrality by mid-century. But there is a second one, and that is the closer one, and this is much more urgent, and this is the horizon of 2030. We have to act now. We need big structural changes to reach 2050 climate neutrality.

“But we cannot wait for 2050. We have to cut emissions fast. And methane is one of the gases we can cut fastest.

“Doing that will immediately slow down climate change. Because we all know that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Roughly 30% of global warming since the industrial revolution is due to methane emissions. Methane is causing 80 times more global warming than CO2.

“Today, global methane emissions grow faster than at any time in the past. So cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is the lowest-hanging fruit.”

According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era.

A potent greenhouse gas, major sources of methane emissions include oil and gas, coal, agriculture, and landfills.

Ms von der Leyen went on to state: “The Global Methane Pledge makes ‘cutting on methane emissions’ a collective undertaking.

“This must of course be supported by a sound scientific basis and a capacity to monitor and to calculate methane emissions. Because we all know that only what gets measured gets done. That is why the European Commission supports the set-up of an independent International Methane Emissions Observatory, through the UN Environment Programme.

“But we also all know that as important as this Pledge is, it is about more than hitting targets.

“There are clear benefits to cutting methane emissions, yes for the planet, but also so much for the people, too. Because if we deliver on this Pledge, we can prevent over 200,000 premature deaths.

“We can prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma-related emergency room visits and over 20 million tons of crop losses a year by reducing ground-level ozone pollution.”

The speech is available in full on the European Commission website.

More information about the Pledge is available on the European Commission website.