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U.S., EU line up over 20 more countries for global methane pact

Two dozen countries have joined a U.S.- and EU-led effort to slash methane emissions 30% by 2030, giving the emerging global partnership momentum ahead of its launch at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow later this month, a government official told Reuters.

Nigeria, Japan and Pakistan are among the 24 new signatories to the Global Methane Pledge, which was first announced by the United States and EU in September with the aim of galvanizing rapid climate action before the start of the Scotland summit on Oct. 31. It could have a significant impact on the energy, agriculture and waste sectors responsible for the bulk of methane emissions.

The nine original partners include Britain, Indonesia and Mexico, which signed on to the pledge when it was announced at the Major Economies Forum last month. The partnership will now cover 60% of global GDP and 30% of global methane emissions.

U.S. special climate change envoy John Kerry and European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans will introduce the new partners at a joint event on Monday and also announce that a dozen philanthropic organizations, including ones led by Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, will mobilize over $200 million to help support countries’ methane reduction efforts, said the official, who declined to be named.

The source said the countries represent a range of different methane emissions profiles. For example, Pakistan’s main source of methane emissions is agriculture, while Indonesia’s main source of methane is waste.

Several countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts, including some African nations and island nations like Micronesia, have also signed the pledge.

In the weeks leading up to the U.N. climate summit, the United States will engage with other major emerging economy methane emitters like India and China to urge them to join and ensure the “groundswell of support continues,” the official said.

‘ONE MOVE LEFT’
Methane is a greenhouse gas and the biggest cause of climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2). Several recent reports have highlighted the need for governments to crack down on methane to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the goal of the Paris climate agreement.

Methane has a higher heat-trapping potential than CO2 but breaks down in the atmosphere faster. A landmark United Nations scientific report released in August said “strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane emissions, in addition to slashing CO2 emissions, could have an immediate impact on the climate.

The United States is due to release oil and gas methane regulations in the coming weeks and the European Union will unveil detailed methane legislation later this year.

Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which contributed to the $200 million fund, told Reuters the money will “help catalyze climate action” and that reducing methane is the quickest way to help carry out the 1.5-degree goal.

Durwood Zaelke, president of the Washington-based Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said the partnership was a “great start” for focusing the world’s attention on the need to slash methane.

“There’s one move left to keep the planet from catastrophe — cutting methane as fast as we can from all sources,” he said by email ahead of the announcement.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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