The Global Methane Pledge was officially launched Tuesday at the COP26 climate conference, with a major push by the EU and US resulting in over 100 countries signing on to the commitment to slash methane emissions during the current decade.
Rapid reduction in methane emissions is seen as one of the most effective near-term actions that can be taken in order to help achieve the global climate goal to limit warming to 1.5°C. Methane, emitted from activity such as agriculture, fossil fuel production and transport, coal mining and landfills, is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, with as much as 80x the warming power of CO2. Given its much shorter lifetime in the atmosphere, however (10-12 years, vs 50-100 years for CO2), near-term reductions in methane emissions can have a meaningful climate impact over the next few years.
The EU and US, with support from seven other countries, kicked off the campaign to establish the Global Methane Pledge in September, aiming to get more countries on board the initiative to slash methane emissions. At the official COP26 launch, a total of 103 countries signed on to the pledge, representing 70% of the global economy and nearly half of human activity-generated methane emissions.
Signatories to the pledge commit to the collective goal to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. According to the US and EU, delivering on the pledge would deliver a reduction inf warming by 0.2°C by 2050.
Speaking at an event highlighting the progress of the pledge, U.S. President Joe Biden said to the signatories:
“The United States is eager to work with each of you to make sure we meet this goal and encourage more countries — more countries — to join us in committing to reducing methane globally, because there are more that can join and should.”
Biden highlighted some of the new initiatives launched in the U.S. in order to begin making progress towards meeting the methane emissions commitment. These include introducing new rules to reduce methane losses from new and existing oil and gas pipelines, and another to reduce leaks from natural gas pipelines.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added:
“I want to thank all those countries that have signed up to the Global Methane Pledge. With this global pledge, we are making COP26 the moment when the world moves from aspiration to action.”