By Faith Atieno and Saumu Juma
More than 100 countries have come together in an effort to slash emissions of the greenhouse methane, an initiative that’s aimed at eliminating over 0.2 degrees Celsius warming by 2050, which is a global reduction target according to President Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.
This follows an invitation by the United States and the European Union to support the Global Methane Pledge to be launched at COP26 in November 2021 in Glasgow which was announced by President Biden and President Von der Leyen on the September 17 Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting.
Among the new signatories was Brazil- one of the world’s biggest emitters of methane gas. The Pledge also includes US, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Mexico- 6 of the world’s 10 biggest methane emitters.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), at least 30 percent of global warming since the industrial revolution is due to methane emissions and it is proliferating faster.
Participants joining the Pledge agreed to take voluntary action to contribute to a collective effort to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.
Moreover, Participants committed to moving towards using the highest tier Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) good practice inventory methodologies as they work to continuously improve the accuracy, transparency, consistency, comparability and completeness of national greenhouse gas inventory reporting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Paris Agreement.
Catalyzing global action and strengthening support for existing international methane emission reduction initiatives is one of the aims of the Pledge which will seek to advance technical and policy work that will serve to underpin Participant’s domestic actions.
It also recognizes the essential roles that private sector, development banks, financial institutions and philanthropy play to support implementation of the Pledge and welcomes their efforts and engagement.
According to Global Methane Assessment report released in May by Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the UNEP, reducing methane would help in preventing 260,000 premature deaths, 775000 asthma-related hospital visits, 75 billion hourse of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 tonnes of crop losses.
The European Union has been taking steps to reduce its methane emissions for almost three decades. The European Commission strategy adopted in 1996 helped reduce methane emissions from landfilling by almost a half.
Under the European Green Deal, and to support the European Union’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, the European Union adopted in October 2020 a strategy to reduce methane emissions in all key sectors covering energy, agriculture and waste.
In 2020, the annual increase in atmospheric methane was 14.7 parts per billion (PPB) which is the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measures began in 1983 with possible contributing factors like lockdown.
Major sources of methane emissions include oil and gas, coal, agriculture and landfills. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), methane warms the planet 86 times as much as carbon dioxide with its oxidation leading to formation of smog, a harmful air pollutant.
More than 20 leading philanthropic organisations such as Bloomberg philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) Oak Foundation, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank and Climate Fund pledged to offer their funds worth $328million by October 2021.
In addition, the European Union is continuing to support international methane mitigation measures through its leadership in Global Methane Initiative and the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC).