The decision was announced in Glasgow, United Kingdom, where the 26th United Nations summit on climate change (COP26) is taking place until the 12 November.
Methane is a gas with a powerful greenhouse effect and, according to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, a gas that see levels being reduced more quickly than others such as carbon dioxide.
“Reducing it [methane gas] would immediately slow global warming,” said Ursula von der Leyen, noting that methane has been responsible for about 30 percent of global warming since the industrial revolution.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, also stressed that methane is "one of the most powerful greenhouse gases", noting later that the signatory countries of the commitment represent 70 percent of the world's GDP, despite neither China nor Russia signing the pledge.
“The United States, the European Union, and partners formally launched the 'Global Methane Pledge', an initiative to reduce global methane emissions and keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1 .5 degrees Celsius (above the average values of the pre-industrial era). A total of more than 100 countries, representing 70 percent of the global economy and nearly half of anthropogenic methane emissions, have now signed up to the pledge,” a US government statement said.
The United States and the European Union had already announced in September that they were working on the agreement, which 103 countries joined, including Portugal, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico and New Zealand.
Pledging for the future
In the note, the United States emphasised that the signatory countries not only commit to reducing methane emissions but also to move towards the use of the best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions.
The United States and the European Union “also are proud to announce a significant expansion of financial and technical support to support the implementation of the commitment. Global philanthropists have pledged $328 million in funding to support the scaling up of these types of methane mitigation strategies around the world. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the Green Climate Fund pledged to support the agreement through technical assistance and project financing. The International Energy Agency will also serve as an implementation partner”, the statement said.
According to the document, the achievement of the Global Methane Commitment will reduce global warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050, “providing a fundamental basis for global efforts to mitigate climate change”.
In addition, according to the Global Methane Assessment of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), achieving the 2030 goals of the commitment would prevent more than 200,000 premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma-related hospital emergencies, and more than 20 million tonnes of crop losses per year by 2030.
Methane (CH4), emitted by agriculture and livestock, fossil fuels and waste, is the second most important greenhouse gas linked to human activity after carbon dioxide (CO2). Although little talked about, it has a warming effect about 29 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period, and about 82 times over a 20-year period.