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COP26: Global methane pledge signatories pass 90 ahead of official launch

Highlights

Signatories include 15 of top 30 methane emitters

US to launch methane action plan Nov 2

UN and EU launch methane emissions observatory

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  • James Burgess
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Over 90 countries have now joined an international pledge to reduce methane emissions ahead of the initiative's official launch later on Nov. 2 at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK.

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The signatories to the global methane pledge from more than 90 governments now include 15 of the world's top 30 methane emitters, counting the US, EU, Indonesia, Pakistan, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, Iraq and Canada, the US government said in a statement Nov. 2.

The US will also launch its Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan at COP26 on Nov. 2, "to identify and cost-effectively reduce methane emissions from all major sources," it said.

"Methane emissions are a major contributor to climate change, which is why President Biden is taking critical, common-sense steps at home to reduce methane across the economy -- all while rallying the rest of the world to take similar bold actions," the statement said.

Methane emissions account for about half of the 1 degree Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Countries joining the global methane pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030 and moving toward using highest tier IPCC good practice inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emissions sources, the European Commission said Oct. 11.

Successful implementation of the pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 C by 2050, it said.

"Platts Analytics latest Future Energy Outlooks Reference Case modeling of CO2 combustion indicates resulting emissions consistent with a 2.8 degree rise in global temperatures. While the shifting out emitting energy capital stock and turning over of fleets can take time -- taking action on shorter lived methane -- with a 20 years global warning potential that is around 85 times stronger than that of CO2 -- can yield relative fast results," according to Platts Analytics' Roman Kramarchuk.

Tracking methane emissions

The UN Environment Programme launched an International Methane Emissions Observatory on Oct. 31, with backing from the EU.

The IMEO will bring transparency on human-caused methane emissions, initially focusing on the fossil fuel sector before expanding to other areas such as agriculture and waste, the EU said in a statement.

Governments and energy companies have major opportunities to reduce methane emissions from fossil fuel operations, many of them at little or no cost, the International Energy Agency said in a report Oct. 7.

Fossil fuel operations globally emitted close to 120 million mt of methane in 2020, nearly a third of all methane emissions from human activity, the IEA said.

"We urgently need to reduce methane emissions to keep our climate targets in reach," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in the statement. "Better satellite monitoring is essential and the EU is proud to support the creation of the International Methane Emissions Observatory."

The recent G20 meeting in Rome, Italy, also highlighted the importance of reducing methane emissions.

Methane emissions reductions "can be one of the quickest, most feasible and most cost-effective ways to limit climate change and its impacts," the group said in an Oct. 31 statement.

The IMEO will have a budget of Eur100 million ($116 million) over five years, and be financed by governments and philanthropies, with "core resources" from the European Commission, it said.

S&P Global Platts launched its methane performance certificate assessment Oct. 4, and assessed prices on Nov. 1 at 4.4 cents/MPC. This converts to $7.097/mtCO2e.

The Platts MPC assessment reflects the price of certificates traded in the spot market with the certificates traded separately from the physical gas. These certificates represent avoided methane emissions from the production of a specific volume of natural gas in the contiguous US and Canada.