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The US and EU plan on Friday to pledge to cut methane pollution by 30% over the next decade, and are pushing other large and potent greenhouse gas emitters to join the effort.
The pact is designed to put methane on the agenda ahead of the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November, people briefed on the plan said, and will go into effect in October. The UK would also be included, they said.
The targets would not set emission limits for individual sectors, the people said, disappointing some climate analysts who otherwise welcomed the news of the upcoming deal. However, they hailed efforts to reduce a greenhouse gas that has a warming potential more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years.
“The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] was crystal clear: we have to cut methane emissions to have the slightest threat of a dream of reaching a degree and a half, ”said Jules Kortenhorst, Managing Director of RMI, a non-profit organization. lucrative United States-based. to the UN climate study on efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 ° C by 2050.
“It makes perfect sense for nations to focus on methane as the most urgent lever,” he said. The IPCC has estimated that reductions in methane and other short-lived pollutants could reduce the increase in global warming by 0.2C by 2040 and by 0.8C by 2100.
The deal comes as the EU and US are also preparing their own separate policies to reduce methane pollution. Emissions are difficult to measure, but the International Energy Agency said about 60% of the 570 million tonnes emitted last year were linked to human activities such as agriculture, production and transportation energy and waste.
The Biden White House has made reducing methane emissions a priority and has already reinstated Obama-era rules to control methane pollution in the energy sector that was canceled by the Trump administration. The US State Department did not respond to requests for comment.
But some analysts have said the new deal’s effect on global emissions will be limited.
A UN methane report in May called for an urgent 45 percent reduction in methane emissions over the next decade.
Maria Pastukhova, senior policy adviser at E3G, a European climate change think tank, said the deal’s more modest 30% target was “problematic”. To reduce global emissions, the deal would require other major methane polluters to sign up.
“Even if the US, UK and EU hit the target, it basically means nothing to the world [emissions] level without China, Russia and India, ”said Pastukhova.
While it would be relatively easy to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector using known techniques, it would be more difficult to reduce emissions from agriculture, the largest source of methane pollution in human origin.
This could make large emitters like Brazil reluctant to sign a pledge calling for general cuts, some analysts have said, while bad emissions data in countries like Russia and Nigeria could also undermine a global compact.
But countries with large energy sectors that are already committed to reducing methane, such as the United States, could gain a geopolitical advantage by reducing pollution, said Paul Bledsoe, adviser to the Progressive Policy Institute, a US think tank. .
“The United States sees a strategic opportunity to have low-methane-intensive gas replace Russian gas,” Bledsoe said.
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