GLASGOW: Dozens of countries on Tuesday joined a United States and European Union pledge to cut emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by at least 30 percent this decade, in a major commitment for climate action.
The initiative, which experts say could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating, followed an announcement earlier Tuesday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in which more than 100 nations agreed to end deforestation by 2030. But Russia, China and India – some of the top methane emitters – are not part of the US and EU-led plan.
“One of the most important things we can do between now and 2030, to keep 1.5C in reach, is reduce our methane emissions as soon as possible,” said US President Joe Biden, referring to the central goal of the 2015 Paris agreement. He called the pledge, which has so far been signed by nearly 100 nations, a “game-changing commitment” that covered countries responsible for around half of global methane emissions.
This decade we have to make significant progress,” said Biden. Praising the methane deal, he said it will cut “half of the world’s methane emissions, affecting half of the world’s GDP.” When asked about the role that China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have played in the two days of talks so far and if he condemns their lack of involvement. Biden said it was a mistake for China and Russia’s leaders not to show up at the summit
European Commission head Ursula Von der Leyen said that the methane cut would “immediately slow down climate change”.”We cannot wait until 2050. We have to cut emissions fast and methane is one of the gases we can cut the fastest,” she said.
Heads of state and government are gathered in Glasgow for a two-day high-level summit that host Britain is hoping will kick start ambitious climate action during the two-week COP26. As the world leaders leave the conference, negotiators are thrashing out the details of each nation’s climate pledges. British PM Boris Johnson said in his message to these negotiators is very simple: “The leaders of the world may have left… but I can tell you that the eyes of the world… are on you. Johnson said he was “cautiously optimistic” about COP26 at the end of the two-day leaders’ meeting. China is pushing back against a focus on limiting warming to 1.5C, saying 2C had to also remain under discussion.
The developing countries tend to pollute less per head of population and are not responsible for most emissions but experience some of the worst effects of climate change and need money to help reduce their emissions to cope with climate change. “Wealthy countries previously pledged $100bn (£720m) a year to help poorer nations by 2020 but that target was missed, so richer countries are being asked to commit more money. The British prime minister conceded that “we owe a special duty” to those developing countries and that is why the $100bn commitment to support them is so important “But other countries are going to have to do more. Johnson admitted that a key pledge to give $100bn in climate funding to poorer and more vulnerable nations would still miss its original deadline, but said it would be there for 2023, adding that “further action from countries around the world” was needed.
While the summit´s first day passed with much rhetoric but only lukewarm climate pledges, Tuesday´s twin announcements were broadly welcomed by campaigners. Decades of climate pledges have been rooted in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Yet methane (CH4) is more than 80 times more potent than CO2, and its sources, such as open pit coal mines, gas leaks and livestock, have received relatively little attention until now. The International Energy Agency estimates that the fossil fuel industry emitted 120 tonnes of methane in 2020, and much of it can be easily avoided. The laundry list for COP26 remains daunting, however, with pressure on leaders to commit to faster decarbonisation and provide billions to nations already dealing with the fallout of climate change.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters he was “cautiously optimistic” about the progress made so far. But he warned that “there is still a very long way to go” before any meaningful deal.
Earlier Tuesday, countries made a multibillion-dollar pledge to end deforestation by 2030. But the promise was met with scepticism from environmental groups, and although details were sparse, it appeared to largely resemble a similar pledge made by more than 200 countries and organisations in 2014.
The British government said that the plan to drum up around $20 billion in public and private funding had been endorsed by more than 100 leaders representing over 85 percent of Earth´s forests, including the Amazon rainforest. The summit pact to “halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030” encompasses promises to secure the rights of indigenous peoples, and recognise “their role as forest guardians”.
While Johnson described the pledge as “unprecedented”, a UN climate gathering in New York in 2014 issued a similar declaration to end deforestation by 2030. An assessment earlier this year found that seven years on from the pact, virtually no government was on course to fulfil their responsibilities.”Signing the declaration is the easy part,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Twitter. “It is essential that it is implemented now for people and planet.”
Guterres says it will be “very difficult” for COP26 to secure the commitments needed to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C. He warned there is a “serious problem of trust” between developed and developing countries and that this relationship is the biggest problem the negotiations face.
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