Home » Press Releases » U.S.- EU Launch Pledge to Cut Super Climate Pollutant Methane

U.S.- EU Launch Pledge to Cut Super Climate Pollutant Methane


Washington, DC, September 17, 2021 — Today the United States and the European Union launched a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030, as part of a broader effort to increase ambition to address the climate crisis.

The launch was announced at the heads of State meeting known as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate hosted today by President Biden. This is the first time heads of State have pledged fast action to cut super climate pollutants to meet the 1.5°C temperature target of the Paris Agreement.

The Global Methane Pledge has a goal of at least a 30% reduction 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.

According to the Chair’s Summary of today’s meeting,

“many MEF [Major Economies Forum] members, including the European Union, Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States, declared their intention to join. It was reported that non-MEF countries, including Ghana and Iraq, have also signaled intent to join the Global Methane Pledge. These early supporters of the Pledge include six of the top 15 methane emitters globally and together account for over one-fifth of global methane emissions and nearly half of the global economy.”

The 30% pledge builds on efforts by President Biden and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, starting at the Major Economies Forum climate summit in April, to encourage heads of State to mitigate methane emissions, and is consistent with President Biden’s goal of making the 2020s the decade of climate action. As President Macron of France said at the April Summit, “2030 is the new 2050.”

“Prior to President Biden’s Climate summit in April, the focus of climate policy was on the distant goal of carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD). “With time running out, the Biden team has refocused climate policy on 2030, calling for immediate cuts to methane emissions as the best way to slow near-term warming over the next critical 10 to 20-year period. This is essential for slowing self-reinforcing feedbacks and avoiding dangerous climate tipping points, on the way to net-zero by 2050.”

Aggressively cutting methane emissions is the only way to keep the global average temperature from breaching the 1.5°C guardrail above preindustrial levels for the next two to three 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.”

Decarbonizing the energy system also is essential but doesn’t start to reduce warming until 2050. This is because when we stop burning fossil fuels, like coal and diesel, we reduce not only carbon dioxide, 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.

Zaelke stated that “methane mitigation is needed on top of efforts to decarbonize, and both strategies must be accelerated to the maximum extent possible to slow dangerous, irreversible climate changes.”

“In 2021, climate disruption has been kicking down our door,” said Dr. Gabrielle Dreyfus, Senior Scientist at IGSD. “The frequency and intensity of these extremes are frightening, and if we don’t want to face an even more punishing future, we need to make this the moment for methane. The methane strategy is the best and fastest arrow in our quiver to bend the temperature curve and give us time to decarbonize by 2050.”

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, many other countries are expected to join the pledge.

For further details, see Joint US-EU Press Release on the Global Methane Pledge, White House (18 September 2021).

(Updated 18 September 2021)