News & Media News COP26: Australia rejects methane reduction pledge

COP26: Australia rejects methane reduction pledge

Australia, a major methane emitter, has refused to sign a major global pledge to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, from 2020 levels. The Pledge, which was launched at the climate summit in Glasgow, was led by the United States and the European Union and signed by more than 100 nations.

Australia declined to sign the Pledge, along with China, India and Russia.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the launch of the Pledge in Glasgow stated, “cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is the lowest-hanging fruit”.

von der Leyen noted the clear benefits to cutting methane emissions.  “If we deliver on this Pledge, we can prevent over 200,000 premature deaths. We can prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma-related emergency room visits and over 20 million tons of crop losses a year by reducing ground-level ozone pollution,” she said.

Facts on methane emissions

· Global methane levels have been rising quickly in the last decade and are now three times higher than in pre- industrial age

·  Methane is responsible for at least 25% of global warming, being 86 times more warming than carbon dioxide over a twenty year time frame

·  Methane degrades quickly in the atmosphere, having a half-life of just over 9 years, compared with carbon dioxide over a century

·  Curtailing methane emissions is a way to rapidly slow accelerating climate change, buying valuable time to transition to a net zero carbon economy

·  Human activity is responsible for the rise in global methane. Main sources are ruminant animals and fossil fuel extraction

·  The Australian livestock industry has responded by pledging a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030

·  Methane emissions from the extraction of fossil fuels have been underestimated and are a major source

·  The gas industry has undergone massive expansion in Australia, partly funded by the tax payer. Justification for this is that the emissions created during extraction will be sent back underground as Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS, an unproven technology which has failed to work economically or at sufficient scale to have any impact on emissions overall

image credit: Lock the Gate