US and EU Partner for Global Methane Reduction

Image: Cultureel Gelderland, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer

On Friday, the United States and the EU will convene to announce a global agreement to cut methane emissions. This announcement will occur after a virtual, closed-door climate summit in preparation for the COP26 this November. “We are grateful to be working with the European Union and partner countries towards a collective global goal, and I’d like to underscore that is a collective global goal to significantly reduce methane emissions,” a Biden official told CNN.

 

Why this Matters: While carbon dioxide is the most well-known greenhouse gas, reducing methane could be extremely effective in preventing further warming. While carbon stays in the atmosphere longer, methane can capture up to 86 times more heat over just two decades. However, methane’s relatively short lifespan makes it much easier to reduce. 

 

The US and EU are expected to announce that they plan to cut methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030, according to a Washington Post report which cited an EU official.

 

“Rapidly reducing methane emissions may be the single most effective strategy to keep the 1.5-degree limit in reach, in terms of near-term actions one can take,” the senior Biden official told CNN.

 

Bringing Down Natural Gas Emissions

Natural gas generates 40% of US electricity and methane is the main ingredient. It leaks out of oil and natural gas wells, pipelines, and processing equipment, and can then escape into the atmosphere. The US has thousands of natural gas wells in use, millions of abandoned wells, 2 million miles of pipelines, and many refineries. One in three Americans live in a county with oil and gas operations. 

 

Methane fees are a part of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill, and new regulations will be released later this year. “We’re trying to get people to join into a global effort to try to cope with methane,” John Kerry, Biden’s climate change envoy, told the New York Times, “It’s hugely destructive. It accelerates the rate of global damage.”

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