US urged to back methane pledge by joining global monitoring effort

The US should stay as much as latest commitments to chop methane air pollution by becoming a member of a brand new worldwide physique to watch the emissions, in response to UN officers concerned within the initiative.

The Worldwide Methane Emissions Observatory, a UN Surroundings Programme venture, was launched at Sunday’s G20 assembly in Rome, and can supply the world’s most complete, real-time methane air pollution information, making it an important instrument in curbing emissions of a potent greenhouse fuel, say its builders.

However the IMEO has been endorsed to this point by solely the EU, leaving huge economies together with the US and Japan but to completely commit, regardless of their latest pledges to chop methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

“We want their political help greater than the rest,” mentioned Manfredi Caltagirone, the observatory’s performing head, referring to the US. “We want these international locations that signed up for the 30 per cent pledge to enroll in this. That is the implementation automobile for the ambition of the pledge.”

Joe Biden entered the White Home this yr promising to reposition the US on the helm of a worldwide struggle towards local weather change. However sluggish progress in Congress over a proposed finances invoice that would come with enormous spending on clear vitality and delays to a brand new home methane air pollution rule might depart the president with little progress to point out at this week’s Glasgow local weather summit, the place methane might be a central subject.

The EU was “proud to help the creation” of IMEO, mentioned Ursula von der Leyen, the European Fee’s president, because the observatory launched. “We urgently want to scale back methane emissions to maintain our local weather targets in attain.”

The Biden administration didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change has estimated that cuts in emissions of methane, which has 80 occasions the atmospheric warming efficiency of carbon dioxide over 20 years, together with different shortlived pollution might scale back the rise in world warming by 0.2C by 2040 and 0.8C by 2100.

The Worldwide Power Company believes about 60 per cent of the 570m tonnes emitted final yr stemmed from human actions akin to agriculture, vitality manufacturing and transport, and waste.

Whereas instruments to measure methane have emerged in latest months, the brand new observatory will “assemble the jigsaw items” into an entire entire, mentioned Mark Brownstein, senior vice-president for vitality on the Environmental Protection Fund, a non-profit organisation concerned in IMEO’s growth.

The IMEO would focus initially on emissions from the fossil gas sector, the place reductions are thought of comparatively straightforward and sometimes price efficient, mentioned Caltagirone.

Methane can leak from vitality infrastructure or is commonly vented intentionally into the ambiance in international locations akin to Turkmenistan, Russia and the US, the place operations could be distant from markets that would in any other case eat the pure fuel.

Subject research prior to now had typically underestimated the quantity of methane emitted, however the IMEO would come with on-the-ground infrastructure-level information, in addition to info from satellites and different sources.

“That you must know what, when and the place methane is emitted so you possibly can act on it,” Caltagirone advised the Monetary Instances. “It’s the lacking glue that’s wanted within the system.”

The IMEO will depend on “crucial” information provided by the Oil and Fuel Methane Partnership 2.0, a reporting framework for methane air pollution.

However of the 74 corporations concerned in OGMP2.0, solely two are from the US. ExxonMobil, Chevron and the large shale oil producers — lots of which endorse efforts to chop methane emissions — usually are not concerned.

Whereas the US’s involvement in IMEO and OGMP2.0 has been minimal, the Biden administration has reinstated some Obama-era methane rules. A brand new rule cracking down on oil and fuel methane air pollution can be printed “in days if not weeks”, Michael Regan, the pinnacle of the federal Environmental Safety Company, advised CNN on Friday.

The US has urged different international locations to enroll to the worldwide methane pledge it introduced with the EU final month. Though Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer, has joined a rising listing of nations which have endorsed the goal, China, India and Russia, three of the world’s largest methane emitters, haven’t.

“With out IMEO the pledge dangers being only a pledge,” mentioned Caltagirone. The US had a possibility to “lead by instance”, by urging its corporations to affix the OGMP2.0 as effectively.

“Because the world’s largest oil and fuel producer and one of many driving forces behind the worldwide methane pledge, I might suppose the US would welcome an initiative just like the IMEO,” mentioned Brownstein. “You’re speaking a couple of pollutant that’s doing 1 / 4 of the warming now.”

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