COP26 methane pledge: 105 countries agree to 30 per cent cut in emissions by 2030

Methane seeps from waste at a dumping zone in Belgharia, India.

Methane seeps from waste at a dumping zone in Belgharia, India

Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket through Getty Pictures

Greater than 100 nations, together with the US, Japan and Canada, have pledged to considerably reduce emissions of methane, a short-lived however highly effective greenhouse gasoline.

The International Methane Pledge introduced at the moment at COP26 in Glasgow, UK, commits signatories to decreasing their general emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, in contrast with 2020 ranges. The US authorities additionally revealed an in depth blueprint of the way it intends to fulfill the objective.

The brand new initiative emphasises making cuts by tackling methane leaking from oil and gasoline wells, pipelines and different fossil gas infrastructure. Vital quantities of the gasoline additionally come from different sources, similar to livestock farming and decaying waste in landfill websites.

Whereas worldwide local weather summits often focus totally on carbon dioxide, the dominant driver of the 1.1°C of world warming that has occurred since pre-industrial ranges, methane is liable for about 30 per cent of world warming thus far, and atmospheric concentrations of the gasoline have surged since 2007, sparking concern from scientists.

“Reducing again on methane emissions is likely one of the simplest issues we are able to do to cut back near-term international warming and maintain to 1.5°C,” stated Ursula von der Leyen, the European Fee president, referring to the 2015 Paris Settlement’s hardest local weather objective.

The voluntary pledge is backed by 15 of the world’s largest methane emitters together with the European Union, Indonesia and Iraq. In whole, 105 nations have signed up and John Kerry, the US president’s particular envoy on local weather, stated he expects the quantity to develop.

Nevertheless, there are some vital omissions. Lacking from the pledge are China, India and Russia, with the latter infamous for leaky fossil gas infrastructure. It additionally doesn’t embody Australia, the place main plumes of methane from coal mines have been recognized.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau introduced his nation would reduce methane emissions from its sizeable oil and gasoline business by 75 per cent by 2030. That’s how briskly the Worldwide Power Company says methane emissions will must be reduce if the world is to achieve web zero by mid-century.

The pledge was hailed as “game-changing” by US president Joe Biden, who has labored with the European Union to guide the initiative. “Probably the most vital issues we are able to do to maintain 1.5°C in attain is cut back our methane emissions,” he stated. Biden stated he would deal with US methane emissions utilizing rules from the US Environmental Safety Company and the Division for Transportation, which has duty for some gasoline pipelines.

Observers stated the brand new effort on methane marked vital progress on curbing local weather change. In an announcement, Jim Watson at College Faculty London stated: “This appears like a big step ahead on progress to deal with a extremely potent greenhouse gasoline at COP26.”

Myles Allen of the College of Oxford stated the dedication was welcome, but it surely was vital to remember CO2’s far higher contribution to local weather change. “My solely fear is that individuals have to grasp that methane is just not an alternative choice to decreasing CO2,” he says.

He notes that even essentially the most formidable plans for chopping methane emissions within the brief time period will solely keep away from round 0.1 to 0.2°C of world warming by 2050. In contrast, present CO2 ranges are driving about 0.2°C of warming per decade. “Except we get CO2 below management, motion on methane is sort of moot. It worries me that it’s being touted as the nice success of COP26,” says Allen.

One key technological advance in recent times has been the launch of satellites, similar to these by Canadian agency GHGSat, that may pinpoint methane leaks with far higher accuracy than earlier than. The Environmental Protection Fund, a US non-profit organisation, is because of launch its personal methane-monitoring satellite tv for pc subsequent 12 months.

International methane emissions from the oil and gasoline industries stood at 70 million tonnes final 12 months, roughly equal to all of the EU’s annual CO2 emissions.

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