Oct 11, 2021
Experts on Monday cautiously welcomed announcements that another 24 nations have joined a U.S.- and European Union-led initiative to voluntarily slash methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by the end of the decade, while climate campaigners underscored earlier assertions that much greater reductions are essential to combating the climate emergency.
"Cutting methane pollution is the fastest opportunity we have to help avert our most acute climate risks, including crop loss, wildfires, extreme weather, and rising sea levels."
The E.U. and eight countries--Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States--signed the Global Methane Pledge last month ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 26, which is set to begin in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31.
The two dozen new signatories to the pledge include Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sweden. All told, the parties to the agreement account for 60% of the world's gross domestic product and 30% of global methane emissions. However, major methane polluters including Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Russia have not signed the pledge.
Methane is the second-biggest contributor to human-caused global heating after carbon dioxide and has been found to be up to 87 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period. Proponents of the Global Methane Pledge say it will help keep the rise in global temperatures below the Paris agreement's more ambitious target of 1.5degC above pre-industrial levels.
\u201cThe Biden administration announced 32 countries have joined the U.S. in a pledge to reduce methane emissions, part of an effort to set new targets to slow global warming ahead of a major United Nations climate summit. https://t.co/qAk7gBULZ6\u201d— The New York Times (@The New York Times) 1633981509
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Monday called cutting methane emissions the "single-fastest strategy that we have to keep a safer 1.5degC future within reach."
While announcing the new initiative last month, President Joe Biden said it 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."
However, while acknowledging that the pledge is a step in the right direction, experts argue that a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030 is not good enough.
Last week, the International Energy Agency published a report calling a 75% reduction in methane emissions by the end of the decade "essential" to combating the climate emergency.
Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, called the Global Methane Pledge a "great start," while encouraging more urgent action.
"There's one move left to keep the planet from catastrophe, cutting methane as fast as we can from all sources," he stressed.
Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, toldThe Washington Post that "momentum is building for a methane moment at Glasgow."
"Cutting methane pollution is the fastest opportunity we have to help avert our most acute climate risks, including crop loss, wildfires, extreme weather, and rising sea levels," he said.
As Common Dreamsreported last month, experts say that scaling down animal agriculture is an essential component of limiting methane emissions. According to research recently published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, "of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food," including livestock feed.
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