Officials in the U.S. and European Union are crafting a pledge to reduce global methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030, and pushing several of the world’s largest economies to join them, according to people familiar with the effort.
The agreement would mark the first global commitment to cut emissions of methane, a gas less prevalent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but far more potent at trapping heat. Dubbed the Global Methane Pledge, the agreement doesn’t call for country-specific targets, but rather for the signatories to support an effort to reduce global, human-caused methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared with 2020 levels, one of the people said.
U.S. and EU officials have agreed to the deal and plan to announce their commitments Friday at a virtual climate summit that President Biden is hosting ahead of next week’s United Nations General Assembly, according to another person familiar with the effort.
The officials are working to get China, Russia and other major oil and gas producers to join the commitment as a cornerstone accomplishment for international climate talks scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, these people said. News of the agreement was earlier reported by Reuters.
Representatives of the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency referred questions to U.S. climate envoy
office. A spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry declined to comment. Mr. Kerry and his team have been in India as part of their efforts to lobby other nations ahead of November’s talks.
The European Commission spokesman on climate and energy policy, Tim McPhie, declined to comment.
The push for a methane deal is coming as part of negotiations to carry out the terms of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, a voluntary pact with no enforcement mechanism.
Methane’s properties as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas are at least 25 times as strong as those of carbon dioxide, scientists have estimated. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body, in August said reduced methane emissions would be one of the most effective and immediate ways to slow climate change.
Policies aimed at cutting methane emissions could fall the heaviest on oil-and-gas companies, one of the leading sources. Methane can escape into the atmosphere from leaks at drilling and storage sites or as it moves through millions of miles of pipelines on its way to customers including power plants and homeowners who heat with natural gas. The agriculture and waste-management industries are also significant sources of methane emissions.
The agreement is coming together as EPA officials work to finish new rules under the Clean Air Act aimed at cutting methane leaks from U.S. oil and natural gas production facilities. New rules are expected as soon as this fall, potentially incorporating more inspections or monitoring technology to prevent and stop leaks.
Mr. Biden as a presidential candidate pledged to craft more stringent rules for this source of greenhouse-gas emissions, alongside similar efforts for other leading sources of carbon-dioxide emissions, power plants and cars and trucks.
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