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US and EU announce global pledge to slash methane

Thursday, 04 November 2021

Author: Kevin Lim

On 2 November 2021, the EU and US formally launched the Global Methane Pledge. The Pledge, with over a hundred signatories now, acknowledges the impact of methane emissions on global warming and a reduction target of 30 percent by 2030 (using a 2020 baseline).

"Cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep to 1.5°C," said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement’s toughest climate goal. She also said cutting methane was "one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming", calling it "the lowest hanging fruit".

US president Joe Biden, who has worked with the European Union to lead the initiative, hailed Pledge as game-changing. "One of the most important things we can do to keep 1.5°C in reach is reduce our methane emissions," he said.

The members of the Pledge are estimated to make up 70% of the global economy, and almost half of all anthropogenic methane emissions (methane emissions from human activity). All but five G20 member nations have signed on to the pledge now, with China representing the largest non-pledging economy.

In addition to committing to a 30% reduction goal, participating countries also will move towards the best available inventory methodologies for methane emissions accounting. The US and EU have offered technical and financial support to assist with implementing the Pledge, with philanthropic organisations also committing 330 million USD to support mitigation strategies globally. Other organisations providing support include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Green Climate Fund and the International Energy Agency.

While the volume of methane emissions is much lower than that of net carbon dioxide emissions, methane has a greater impact. In GHG protocol reporting, the global warming potential of methane is 28 times that of carbon dioxide per kilogram. Global methane emissions from the oil and gas industries were approximately 70 million tonnes in 2020, nearly equivalent to the EU annual CO2 emissions.

Overall, the IPCC estimated that globally methane is responsible for a temperature rise of 0.5°C (since 1900), which is over half that of carbon dioxide:

The 2030 reduction goal has additional positive externalities, including the prevention of over 200 000 premature deaths as well as 20 million tons of crop losses annually according to the CCAC and UNEP.

The uptake of biomethane production technology, as outlined by the World Biogas Association in August, has the potential to aid in the mitigation of fugitive methane emissions from waste sources, as well as the general drive towards zero emissions.

Sources

EC press release

New Scientist

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