Methane-Focused Climate Pact Grows in ScopeBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 09:29
A global treaty has been signed by 24 new nations aiming to reduce harmful methane emissions, giving the pact significantly more batting power. Countries such as Canada, Germany and France have joined Mexico, the US and the European Union in the pledge to reduce emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.
The timing of the pact’s multilateral support is no coincidence: countries are set to have global talks on Oct. 31, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland. Countries including Mexico, the UK and Italy are already a part of the pledge, which will be announced formally during the talks.
“Rapidly reducing global methane emissions is the single fastest strategy we have to limit global warming to 1.5C,” explained Executive Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. Bloomberg Law reported that with the addition of 24 countries, the pact’s supporters now represent 30 percent of methane emissions and 60 percent of the global economy. The main emissions come from the oil and gas industry, agriculture and waste management. Climate scientists believe that if the pact’s emission reductions are achieved, a 0.2C increase in temperature by 2050 can be avoided, a significant portion of the total goal.
What makes methane so dangerous is the strong, direct impact it has on the earth’s atmosphere, which is around 80 times stronger than the impact carbon dioxide has in a short amount of time. Bloomberg Law stresses that the issue is also one of the easiest to fix, since the UN estimated that 80 percent of measures to reduce emissions incur no costs at all.
Mexico, however, has a particular challenge in reducing harmful methane emissions. Daniel Zavala, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) calculated that 4.7 percent of the methane produced in Mexico is leaked into the atmosphere, an average twice as much as that of the US. Zavala notes this is considered a very high average on the global level, too. “Cutting these emissions in half would have the same climate benefit over 20 years as removing one third of total passenger cars in the country,” Zavala told Reuters in an interview with Reuters. Using new technology, EDF can map these “alarming and worrying” leaks in ways that were not possible before. By using airplanes outfitted with specialty equipment to gather data and then comparing it with readings from satellites, methane emissions can be accurately outlined.