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U.S., EU Expand Support for Fast Cuts to Methane


24 new countries joining Global Methane Pledge, for a total of 33

Washington, DC, October 11, 2021 — The U.S. and EU announced today that an additional 24 countries have committed to join their Global Methane Pledge unveiled jointly in September at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. The pledge is now backed by 9 of the top 20 methane-emitting countries. The entire group accounts for 60% of the global economy.

Fast cuts to methane emissions is the only strategy that can reduce near-term warming fast enough to keep the 1.5°C temperature of the Paris Agreement insight, a key goal of the Biden Administration.

“If the world is serious about keeping the climate safe, it’s got to get serious about cutting methane,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, “and the Methane Pledge is a good start.”

“It’s encouraging to see how quickly momentum for methane mitigation is building ahead of COP 26, including with both big emitters and the most vulnerable countries,” Zaelke added.

The Global Methane Pledge has a goal of reducing emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Achieving this target would avoid over 0.2°C of warming by the 2040s and keep the planet on a pathway consistent with staying within 1.5°C, according to the Global Methane Assessment, released in May of this year by UNEP and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

When the Pledge was first announced at the Major Economies Forum hosted by President Biden in September, supporters included the EU, Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, UK, U.S., Ghana, and Iraq. In the three weeks since, an additional 24 countries have been added, bringing the total to 34. The new countries are listed in the Department of State’s Joint U.S.-EU Statement on the Global Methane Pledge released today. Russia also spoke favorably about the Global Methane Pledge this morning and indicated it would join after further studies.

A dozen philanthropic organizations announced this morning that they have mobilized over $223 million to help support countries’ methane reduction efforts, as explained by Richard Lawrence, director and co-founder of the High Tide Foundation, who noted that today’s $223 million pledge follows the $53 million put together to support the Kigali Amendment to phasedown super polluting HFCs agreed in 2016.

Aggressively cutting methane emissions is the only way to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach and slow warming over the next two decades, according to the Global Methane Assessment. More recently, the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report further confirmed the need for immediate and drastic reduction of methane emissions, calling for “strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 [methane] emissions.”

Getting to net-zero CO2 emissions is essential to stabilizing the climate over the longer term, but alone doesn’t bend the warming curve until 2050. This is because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, and when we stop burning fossil fuels, like coal and diesel, we reduce not only CO2 but also co-emitted cooling aerosols. These cooling aerosols fall out of the atmosphere in days to months, and this offsets reductions in warming from decarbonization until around 2050.

“This is the decade that will decide the fate of billions,” said Dr. Gabrielle Dreyfus, Senior Scientist at IGSD. “In the remaining 99 months to 2030, we need to cut methane to bend the warming curve, to limit self-amplifying feedbacks and extremes, while simultaneously transforming our economies to cut CO2 emissions to net-zero.”

“There’s one move left to keep the planet from catastrophe—cutting methane as fast as we can from all sources,” added Zaelke.

The Global Methane Pledge will be formally launched at COP26, the high-profile United Nations climate summit in Glasgow scheduled for the first two weeks of November. Over the coming weeks, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans encouraged those countries already joining to recruit other countries to join the pledge, with a goal of at least 100 countries by COP 26 in Glasgow.

For further details see Joint U.S.-EU Statement on the Global Methane Pledge, Department of State (11 October 2021).

See earlier Joint US-EU Press Release on the Global Methane Pledge, White House (18 September 2021).