U.S. Working with EU on Pledge to Cut Global Methane Emissions

Global Methane Pledge

President encourages others to commit to pledge

The U.S. is working with the European Union on a pledge to help cut global methane emissions nearly a third by 2030 and has encouraged other countries to sign on. More than a dozen world leaders joined virtually for a candid assessment of the threats of climate change at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.

“This will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but it will also produce a very valuable side benefit, like improving public health and agricultural output,” Mr. Biden said at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. 

The U.S. and the EU issued a press release detailing the pledge—the first global commitment to cut emissions of methane.  Also signed on are Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The Global Methane Pledge calls for the signatories to support reduction of global, human-caused methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 (compared with 2020 levels).

Policies aimed at cutting methane emissions could fall heaviest on oil and gas companies. Methane escapes into the atmosphere from leaks at drilling and storage sites or pipelines: farming and waste-management industries are also significant sources of methane emissions but with limited options in the way of reducing methane emissions, exploring environmentally sound solutions to reduce or capture escaping methane from energy production figures to be a major international priority.

Galvanizing world leaders to force steep emissions cuts has proven difficult, and the public list of attendees notably didn’t include top leaders from China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, or some staunch U.S. allies such as Canada and Germany.

In August, a U.N. panel said reduced methane emissions would be one of the most effective and immediate ways to slow climate change. But methane emissions have been rising for decades, driven by industrial farming and growing energy demand, especially for natural gas. Russia, the world’s largest methane emitter according to the International Energy Agency, hasn’t agreed to the Global Methane Pledge.

The forum’s members—roughly mirroring the Group of 20 leading economies—account for 80% of the world’s emissions. Other countries are hesitant to act if these richer nations don’t move first by cutting their own emissions and funding developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions.

Earlier this year the U.S. committed to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 50% by 2030 (from 2005 levels), and called on countries to increase their national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the United-Nations-led climate negotiations scheduled for November in Glasgow.

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