Methane emissions are the second-biggest cause of climate change behind carbon dioxide
Australia will not back a pledge, led by the European Union and the United States, to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 due to concerns about the impact on farming, coal and gas operations, the energy minister's spokesperson said on Thursday.
However New Zealand, another major methane emitter through its dairy and sheep industries, may sign the Global Methane Pledge.
"New Zealand is actively considering signing up to the pledge and will take a decision soon," a spokesperson for Minister of Climate Change James Shaw said.
The United States and EU announced the methane pledge in September aiming to rally rapid climate action before the start of UN climate talks in Glasgow, which start on Sunday.
Methane emissions - which come from natural gas, open pit coal mines, and cattle and sheep - are the second-biggest cause of climate change behind carbon dioxide (CO2). They trap more heat than CO2 emissions but break down faster than CO2 in the atmosphere.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to support the methane pledge to win support for a net zero carbon emissions by 2050 commitment from the coalition government's junior partner, the National Party, which represents rural Australians, including farmers and coal miners.
National Party leader Barnaby Joyce said excluding methane from Australia's 2050 target was necessary because a 30% reduction in methane emissions would spell disaster for the beef, feedlot, dairy and coal mining industries.
"The only way you can get your 30% by 2030 reduction in methane on 2020 levels would be to grab a rifle and start shooting your cattle," Joyce told reporters in Canberra.
Australia's gas industry leaders said in September cutting methane emissions has long been a priority for the industry and said the methane leakage rate for Australia's gas industry was about 0.7% of production compared with 1.2% for US gas production.
Australia's decision was first reported in The Australian newspaper.