Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU and the US have reportedly reached an agreement to make a sharp cut in their respective methane greenhouse gas emissions, and to make a joint push on the world stage to pressure other major economies to join do the same.
According to a document seen by Reuters, the EU and the US will formally make a joint announcement later this week, pledging to reduce human-caused methane emissions by at least 30% compared to the previous year’s levels.
Methane is the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, but its atmospheric lifetime is relatively short, meaning even small cuts can rapidly reduce methane levels in the atmosphere and have a noticeable impact on human-caused climate change trends.
This rapid climate change effect of reducing methane emissions was recently emphasised in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which was presented last month and is thought to have inspired the proposed joint initiative by the EU and the US.
Expert analyses indicated that the fossil fuel sector can significantly cut methane emissions merely by repairing leaking pipelines or storage facilities, maintenance repairs that could likely be carried out at a relatively low cost.
The joint document lists key sources of methane emissions that could be targeted by participating countries in addition to leaking infrastructure. These include old coal mines, agricultural production and waste treatment facilities such as landfills. It invites participating governments to reduce agricultural emissions through a combination of technology innovations, financial incentives and partnerships with farmers.
The draft Global Methane Pledge also lists a number of other developed economies that Washington and Brussels plan to persuade to join their initiative. The list includes several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, among them, China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, Britain and South Africa.