What is the Global Methane Pledge? Steps to climate action
The Global Methane Pledge (GMP) commits to tackling the climate crisis by reducing methane emissions.
The pledge seeks to
- Catalyse action
- Promote technical cooperation
- Strengthen support for existing methane reduction initiatives.
- Increase international collaboration
This collective effort highlights the role of methane mitigation in climate change commitments. It also emphasises the importance of joint international efforts to achieve tangible progress.
Understanding methane emissions and their role in global warming
Methane gets less attention than carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane is less common in the atmosphere and only lasts about a decade, while CO2 lasts centuries. Yet, it does its damage quickly and fades away, while CO2 consistently traps heat over time.
Sources of methane emissions
Methane emissions originate from various natural and human-driven activities:
- Natural sources. Wetlands, termites, oceans, permafrost, and wildfires.
- Anthropogenic sources. Agriculture, waste management, energy, and biomass burning.
Methane from human activity falls into three main sectors.
- Agriculture (livestock production and rice cultivation).
- Fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal mining)
- Waste management (landfills and wastewater treatment)
Methane emissions impact the environment, climate, and human health.
- Climate change. The heat-trapping capacity of methane contributes significantly to global warming and climate change.
- Air quality. Methane in the atmosphere reacts with other chemicals to form ozone. At ground level, ozone is a harmful air pollutant affecting human health and crop growth.
- Public health. Poor air quality can lead to respiratory, heart-related, and other health issues. These issues are more pronounced in vulnerable groups like children and the elderly.
The role of the GMP in reducing methane emissions
Goals and objectives
A primary goal is to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by the end of this decade.
This target is based on findings from the Global Methane Assessment. The research found that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45% this decade. This could potentially avert nearly 0.3°C of global warming.
The Pledge also highlights developing countries’ need for technical and financial assistance. According to the European Commission, philanthropies have committed $328 million to support the scale-up of methane mitigation ambitions worldwide.
Leading countries and participants
As per the Joint US-EU Press Release, the signatories share a common goal. Reducing methane emissions and meeting climate change targets.
The collaboration seeks to improve
Needed to reduce methane emissions on a global scale.
Several technologies are crucial to methane emission reduction initiatives.
- Biogas capture and utilisation. Capturing biogas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and agriculture can reduce methane emissions. It can then be used as a renewable energy source, replacing fossil fuels in heating or electricity generation.
- Improved waste management. Developing more efficient waste management practices to reduce methane emissions from landfills. These include recycling and composting.
- Leak detection and repair. Reducing methane leaks in the oil and gas industry is crucial. This can be achieved through regular monitoring, detection, and repairing pipelines, compressors, and other facilities.
Policy and financial support
Policy and financial support can facilitate methane mitigation technologies and practices. Governments, international organisations, and private sector institutions play a crucial role.
- Regulation and incentives. Governments can implement rules and financial incentives to encourage methane reduction technologies and practices. Examples include emission-targeted regulation, tax incentives, and subsidies.
- Capacity building and knowledge sharing. Technical assistance and knowledge sharing between countries can promote best practices. Organisations like the UN Environment Programme’s International Methane Emissions Observatory and the International Energy Agency provide support in this area.
- Public-private partnerships. Collaborative efforts between governments, businesses, and research institutions are needed. This can scale up the deployment of methane reduction technologies and drive innovation.
- Investment in research and development. Providing funding for new technologies and practices can spark methane emissions reduction efforts.
Progress and challenges
Despite its importance, the Pledge faces several progress-related and implementation challenges.
Monitoring and reporting
The key to success is the ability to monitor and report progress effectively. The Pledge’s text states that regular reviews will occur through annual ministerial meetings. However, the Pledge is non-binding, which makes it hard to ensure nations are held accountable.
Lack of innovation and expertise in key sectors
Some key methane-emitting sectors, such as agriculture and waste, may need more innovation and understanding to reduce emissions.
Lack of international buy-in
Another challenge is that the Pledge only includes some major methane emitters. This could limit the effectiveness. Additional measures may be needed to ensure all relevant countries and sectors actively work towards the shared goal.
The pledge has brought together countries representing 45% of global methane emissions. As more countries join, we could witness enhancements in
- International cooperation
- Advancement in technology and policy solutions to tackle methane emissions
Global impact and significance
According to the International Energy Agency, achieving a 30% reduction in global methane emissions by 2030 could prevent up to 0.3°C of warming by 2040. This would significantly contribute to limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C or even 1.5°C as set by the Paris Agreement.
Furthermore, reducing methane emissions will improve public health by reducing air pollution. The United Nations Environment Programme highlights that such reductions by 2040 could prevent an estimated
- 255,000 premature deaths
- 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits annually
Lastly, reducing methane in agriculture and waste can improve economic and ecological efficiency. Companies and farmers who innovate can benefit financially and environmentally in the long run.