The US and EU have announced a global partnership to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Methane is responsible for one-third of global warming from human activity, which is why over 100 countries have joined in.
Though many environmentalists feel that focusing on CO2 is best (since CO2 stays in the atmosphere longer), methane impacts the atmosphere more intensely. In fact, it is 28-34 times as warming as CO2. And, over 20 years, methane is about 84 times as powerful per unit as carbon dioxide.
US President Joe Biden referred to methane gas as “one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is.”
EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen told summit participants, “We cannot wait for 2050. We have to cut emissions fast.” She went on to say that removing methane is “one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming.”
The Paris Agreement’s goals are to keep the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Last August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that methane was behind a 1-degree Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature already.
Most methane comes from natural resources, such as wetlands. However, a large percentage comes from human activity – including cattle and rice production, garbage dumps, and natural gas production and transport. Many believe fracking practices have a large part to play too.
Though this pledge covers countries that emit half of all methane emissions – some significant emitters are not a part of the ledge. These include Russia and China.
It is important to know that joining the pledge is voluntary, with no real repercussions if failing to meet guidelines. Regardless, many view this partnership as a step in the right direction.
Governments, and companies alike, have shown at COP26 a genuine desire to partner together to lower emissions. The boom within the carbon credit industry has shown this as well. Advances in technology increased regulations, and the offset industry all have a role in the fight against climate change.
If methane is cut by 30%, scientists believe it could prevent the earth’s temperature from increasing by .3 degrees Celsius by 2040.