U.S. and EU plan to reach agreement to curb methane pollution

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Climate change update

The United States and the European Union plan on Friday to pledge to reduce methane pollution by 30% in the next ten years, and are lobbying other powerful greenhouse gas emitters to join this effort.

The agreement aims to put methane on the agenda before the UN climate At the November summit in Glasgow, people familiar with the matter said that the plan will take effect in October. They said that Britain would also be included.

People familiar with the matter said that these targets will not set emission limits for individual sectors, which disappoints some climate analysts who would otherwise welcome news of an upcoming agreement. However, they praised efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, which have a warming potential of more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide in 20 years.

“this [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] It’s very clear: We must reduce methane emissions to have any dream of reaching 1.5 degrees,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of RMI, a clean energy non-profit organization in the United States. Participate in the United Nations. Climate research, about efforts to control global warming within 1.5C by 2050.

“It is absolutely meaningful for countries to use methane as the most urgent lever,” he said. The IPCC estimates that reducing methane and other short-term pollutants can reduce the increase in global warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2040 and 0.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.

When the agreement is reached, the European Union and the United States are also preparing their own policies to reduce methane pollution. Emissions are difficult to measure, but the International Energy Agency stated that about 60% of the 570 million tons emitted last year were related to human activities such as agriculture, energy production and transportation, and waste.

The Biden White House has prioritized the control of methane emissions and has restored Obama-era rules to control methane pollution in the energy sector that the Trump administration has cancelled. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

However, some analysts said that the impact of the new agreement on global emissions will be limited.

A United Nations report on methane in May called for an emergency reduction of methane emissions by 45% within the next ten years.

Maria Pastukhova, a senior policy adviser at the European climate change think tank E3G, said the agreement’s more modest 30% target is “problematic”. In order to reduce global emissions, the agreement needs to be signed by other large methane polluters.

“Even if the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have achieved their goals, it basically means nothing to the world. [emissions] There is no level of China, Russia and India,” Pastuchova said.

Although it is relatively easy to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector using known technologies, it will be more difficult to reduce emissions from agriculture, the largest single source of methane pollution related to humans.

Some analysts said that this may make Brazil and other major emitters reluctant to sign commitments that require comprehensive emissions reductions, and the poor emission data of countries such as Russia and Nigeria may also undermine global agreements.

But Paul Bledsoe, an adviser to the Institute for Progressive Policy, a US think tank, said that the United States and other countries that have large energy sectors and have pledged to reduce methane emissions can gain geopolitical advantages by reducing pollution.

Bledsoe said: “The United States sees a strategic opportunity for natural gas with low methane concentration to replace Russian natural gas.”

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