EU’s Von Der Leyen says 60 countries have signed methane pledge

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that 60 countries have now signed on to a global pledge to reduce methane emissions ahead of its announcement at the COP26 climate summit next week.

“Methane, if you look at greenhouse gases, is the lowest hanging fruit,” von der Leyen said at a press briefing Thursday. “There’s urgent need to do something, and there is a lot we can do.”

The pledge put forward last month by the EU and the U.S. will set a collective goal of reducing emissions across the economy by 30 per cent by 2030 from levels seen in 2020. Prior to von der Leyen’s announcement, more than 30 countries had signed on, including the U.K., Canada, France and Germany.

China and Russia have been two notable absentees. It wasn’t clear if they had joined the commitment. 

The European Union is banking on its credentials as the world’s forerunner in moving to a greener economy and convincing others to do the same at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which begins Oct. 31. The bloc is aiming to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees Celsius on the table at the talks. It has been been hamstrung in recent years in efforts to establish a global carbon market and in urging rich countries to stick to their financial pledges to help poorer nations limit the effects of climate change. 

Ahead of the summit, nations are positioning themselves to look strong in their efforts to curb global warming. The EU is also a signatory of a plan to halt deforestation by 2030, which alongside the methane pledge is set to be unveiled at the conference. Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said the COP26 climate talks have already driven action to slow global warming.

Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate chief, met with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua this week in an attempt to drum up momentum ahead of COP26. China is expected to release its updated emissions-cutting plan later Thursday. The country is seen as key to global talks, with the UN warning this week that the world is on course for catastrophic warming of 2.7-degrees Celsius by the end of the century. 

An increase of that magnitude would far exceed the aim of keeping warming below 2 degrees — and preferably 1.5 degrees — outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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