Climate pact on methane gathers 35 countries after U.S., EU push

University of Colorado

The U.S. and the European Union are set to announce at key climate talks next month that at least 35 countries have joined a global pact to cut methane emissions, according to an official.

The pledge to rein in output of the potent greenhouse gas is already backed by nations including the U.K., Canada and Germany. The U.S. and the EU will likely reveal additional signatories at the COP26 summit on Nov. 2, the official said, asking not to be identified discussing a confidential matter, and declining to name them.

Nations in the agreement commit to support a collective goal to cut methane output by at least 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the end of the decade — with potential reductions coming from the oil industry, agriculture and waste, among other sources. Dozens of countries have joined the pact since it was first proposed — representing almost a third of global methane emissions — and efforts continue to sign up more.

The U.S. is working with “development banks, bilateral aid agencies and with governments everywhere to ensure that we have the strongest possible launch of this global methane pledge at COP26,” said Rick Duke, White House liaison for the special presidential envoy for climate change. Duke expects ministers will convene annually to take stock of progress toward the target.

In Europe, policy makers are expected to propose laws soon that will force gas companies to monitor and report their methane emissions, and improve the detection and repair of leaks. The new EU measures would cover both intentional and unintentional methane seepage, and would be aimed at spurring similar action internationally.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose requirements for stemming methane leaks at oil and gas wells as soon as next week. The agency will seek to strengthen mandates for newly modified and drilled wells, while establishing standards for the hundreds of thousands of others drilled long ago.

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