Major methane deal at climate summit – minus China – Manila bulletin

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GLASGOW, UK – Countries on Tuesday made a historic pledge to cut methane emissions this decade, with US President Joe Biden blaming the Chinese leader for ignoring the COP26 climate summit.

The Amazon is the scene of one of the most intense deforestation on the planet (AFP / CARL DE SOUZA)

Nearly 100 countries have joined a U.S. and European Union initiative to cut emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – by at least 30% this decade, with China among notable absentees.

The initiative, which experts say could have a powerful short-term impact on global warming, follows an announcement earlier Tuesday at the Glasgow summit in which more than 100 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030.

“One of the most important things we can do by 2030, to keep 1.5 ° C within reach, is to reduce our methane emissions as soon as possible,” Biden said, referring to the central objective of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

He called the pledge, covering half of global methane emissions, a “game-changing pledge.”

However, he criticized the decision of Chinese President Xi Jinping – whose economy is the world’s largest emitter – not to attend the summit that launched the 13-day climate talks.

“Frankly, it was a big mistake for China not to show up. The rest of the world looked at China and said, “What value do they bring? Biden told reporters.

“It’s just a gigantic problem and they are gone. How do you do that and claim you can have any leadership? Biden said.

The same goes for Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.

Heads of state and government have gathered in Glasgow for the two-day summit that Britain hopes to boost ambitious climate action in negotiations that follow.

Organizers say the outcome in Glasgow will be crucial for the continued viability of the Paris Agreement temperature targets.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he was “cautiously optimistic” about the progress made in Glasgow so far.

– Stronger than CO2 –

Decades of climate commitments have been anchored in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Yet methane (CH4) is more than 80 times more powerful than CO2, and its sources, such as surface coal mines, gas leaks, and livestock, have received relatively little attention until here.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the fossil fuel industry emitted 120 million tonnes of methane in 2020, and much of it can be easily avoided.

A UN report released earlier this year showed that “available targeted methane measures” could reduce CH4 levels by 45% by 2030.

This would reduce the projected warming by 0.3 ° C, prevent a quarter of a million deaths from air pollution and increase global crop yields by 26 million tonnes, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has calculated. ).

UNEP also says greenhouse gas emissions in general must drop 45% by 2030 to keep 1.5 ° C within reach.

“Methane is a greenhouse gas strongly associated with the fossil fuel industry … evaporating from coal mines, oil and gas extraction and pipelines,” said Kat Kramer, head of the Christian Aid climate policy.

“Methane is just another reason the fossil fuel industry has to stop. ”

However, the main issuers China, India, Russia and Australia have not signed the pledge.

WWF climate expert Vanessa Perez-Cirera said she would like to see “all signatories to the Paris Agreement sign up.”

– Access problems –

Earlier on Tuesday, countries pledged multibillion dollars to end deforestation by 2030.

But the pledge was met with skepticism by environmental groups, and although details are scarce, it appeared to largely resemble an earlier pledge.

The UK government said the plan to mobilize around $ 20 billion in public and private funding has been endorsed by more than 100 leaders representing more than 85 percent of the Earth’s forests, including the Amazon rainforest.

The summit’s pact to “stop and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030” includes promises to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and to recognize “their role as stewards of the forest”.

While Johnson called the commitment “unprecedented,” a United Nations climate rally in New York in 2014 issued a similar declaration to end deforestation by 2030.

An assessment carried out earlier this year found that virtually no government was on track to meet its responsibilities.

“Signing the declaration is the easy part,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.

“It is essential that it is implemented now for people and the planet.”

Meanwhile, chaotic scenes continued around the COP26 venue on Tuesday, with attendees lining up around the block awaiting security checks.

In the early afternoon, UN organizers sent an alert SMS asking people to stay away from the place “to ensure compliance with Covid-19 measures”.

Accessibility issues in the locked city center were highlighted as the Israeli energy minister, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to enter the site on Monday.

The white list for COP26 remains intimidating, with pressure on leaders to pledge to accelerate decarbonization and deliver billions to countries already facing the fallout from climate change.


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