More nations pledge to cut methane emissions from cows, oil

More than a dozen nations have joined a global pledge to slash methane releases, building momentum to tackle the potent greenhouse gas, though some of the world’s biggest emitters remain holdouts. 

With the addition of the new members, including Australia, the number of countries committed to cut methane emissions 30 per cent by the end of this decade will reach 150, according to people familiar with the matter, asking not to be named ahead of planned announcements at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. 

Programs for curbing methane releases from the waste and agriculture sector also are set to be unveiled during a Thursday ministerial meeting on the subject, the people said. Expanded efforts to rapidly detect leaks of methane using satellites – even under water, like the recent discharges from the ruptured Nord Stream pipelines – will also be discussed, one of the people said. 

But there’s no sign that some major gas producers still outside the pledge, including Russia, Turkmenistan and India, will join, two of the people said. 

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is released from oil wells, coal seams, landfills and livestock. Unlike carbon dioxide, which can take years to warm the atmosphere, methane packs its biggest punch during the first two decades after it is released into the atmosphere. 

Agriculture and livestock are the biggest sources of methane today, but trash is a growing part of the problem. 

“In much of the world, waste management practices and systems are currently poor or nonexistent, which will mean more methane emissions from waste if we don’t take action now,” said Kait Siegel, a senior analyst at the Clean Air Task Force. 

A new $3 million Global Methane Hub program to track and manage methane emissions from the global waste sector in Africa and Latin America was announced Wednesday at COP27. 

China may also detail its plans for curbing methane emissions this week, two of the people said, in keeping with a commitment it made in a joint declaration with the US last year in Glasgow. 

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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