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The EU and US are leading a “Global Methane Pledge”, which is to be launched at the COP26 climate summit, taking place on 1- 12 November in Glasgow, Scotland.

This pledge, which is hoped will be taken up by economically advanced countries across the world, is a commitment to lower emissions of methane from the energy, agriculture and waste sectors by 30% of 2020 levels by the end of the decade.

In the lead up to this summit, the UN has highlighted the critical importance of rapidly reducing methane emissions as the single most effective strategy to reduce near-term global warming and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.

Supporters of the “Global Methane Pledge” include the UK, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Nigeria and Japan, amongst others. With these commitments, 9 of the world’s top 20 methane emitters are now participating in the Pledge, representing about 30% of global methane emissions and 60% of the global economy.

However, Australia has said that it will not be backing the pledge, due to concerns around the impact on its agricultural sector. New Zealand is still considering its participation.

As the EU is about to launch proposals on reducing its own methane emissions, ensuring that our main trade partners, and global competitors, are following a similar course is vital, from the preceptive of EU competitiveness and to avoid carbon leakage- where production is moved outside the EU.

According to an EU assessment, the bloc is already on track to cut its methane emissions by 29% below 2005 levels by 2030, but aims to step that up to a range of 35% to 37% to meet its 2030 climate goals. The European Commission is expected to propose new legislation to tackle methane emissions from energy, in December. While under the Commissions proposed strategy, emissions in the agricultural sectors are not to be subject to mandatory reductions, rather tackled through the promotion of research on innovative methane reducing technologies and nature-based solutions, the European Parliament is pushing for tighter measures. In a vote on October 21, the Parliament called for binding measures and methane reduction targets for all sectors.

Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive