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Dhaka Tribune

COP27: US, EU mull new oil, methane emissions pledge

The declaration would build on an agreement spearheaded by the US and EU last year to slash methane emissions 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels

Update : 09 Nov 2022, 11:43 PM

The US and the EU plan to unveil a joint agreement at the UN climate summit this week to step up efforts to reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from the fossil fuel sector, and are hoping other nations will sign up.

A draft of the pledge, seen by Reuters, said the US and the EU will agree to target the energy sector with both domestic and international measures, such as policies to stop routine venting and flaring of natural gas, and require companies to fix leaks in their infrastructure.

Both the US and the EU, the biggest greenhouse gas emitters behind China, have proposed regulations to curb oil and gas companies' methane leaks domestically, but they have not yet been implemented.

The declaration would build on an agreement spearheaded by the US and EU last year to slash methane emissions 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels.

That 'Global Methane Pledge' has since been signed by 119 countries, among them 13 of the world's top 20 methane emitters including Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria.

An American official said the US and the EU had lined up support from a few "major players" for the new declaration, without specifying further.

The draft said signatories could also bolster monitoring and reporting of methane emissions - forcing companies to face up to the scale of their problem.

International standards

A senior EU official said the declaration aimed to advance international standards for such monitoring and reporting. "The methane abatement work is suffering from the lack of international standards," they said.

"We commit to working towards the creation of an international market for fossil energy that minimises flaring, methane, and CO2 emissions across the value chain to the fullest extent practicable, as we also work to phase down fossil fuel consumption," the draft said.

Methane has more than 80 times the planet-warming potency of CO2 in its first 20 years, but breaks down faster in the atmosphere, making it a high value target in near-term efforts to slow climate change.

The 27-country EU is the world's biggest buyer of gas, while the US is the world's biggest oil and gas producer.

Agriculture is the top source of methane emissions worldwide, but experts say the energy sector can cut emissions faster - and often at low cost.

Methane is the main component of natural gas, and leaches into the atmosphere from oil wells and leaky gas pipelines.

If captured, it can be sold as fuel. Despite that incentive to capture emissions, atmospheric concentrations of methane surged last year by the highest amount since records began in the 1980s.

The US-liquefied natural gas deliveries to the EU have jumped this year as Russian gas supply to Europe dipped following its invasion of Ukraine.

Forty countries are expected to publish plans at the COP27 summit detailing how they will meet the Global Methane Pledge - which is voluntary, but aims to trigger more binding policies.

So far, the Global Methane Pledge does not include China, the world's biggest methane emitter. Nor does it include Russia, which was Europe's biggest gas supplier before it invaded Ukraine in February.

India needs coal until 2040

Coal will play an important role in India until at least 2040, the nation's coal minister said on Wednesday, even as calls for countries to switch to cleaner forms of fuel intensify at the summit.

However, the UN has called for urgent action to cut emissions, including phasing out coal by 2040 globally.

Keeping global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require private sector funding, said US climate diplomat John Kerry.

Addressing an event on the sidelines of COP27, Kerry said that meeting the goal would require a global effort and that this, along with reducing methane emissions were key areas of cooperation with China.

But he said the relationship on climate with China is not yet working again.

Meanwhile, EU auditors in a report on Wednesday said billions of euros in aid given to coal regions in the European Union have all but failed to spearhead an effective climate transition.

Also on Wednesday, the US midterms made waves at the summit, with activists urging President Joe Biden to take bolder action against global warming regardless of the election outcome.

Campaigners were confident that Republicans would not be able to undo Biden's $370 billion green energy legislation even if they take one or both houses of Congress.

Biden joins the conference on Friday.

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