COP26 Glasgow Update: Biden Administration Announces Global Commitment for Cutting Methane Emissions

Blog Mike Green

Wednesday November 3 marked day three of COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. During our first two days we were greeted with featured presentations from Heads of State and world leaders as they traveled to here to announce their countries’ progress towards their national commitments and make new commitments to the climate crisis.

Having world leaders join the conference over the first two days seems to have been a strategic move by the conference hosts. Rather than defer to their delegation leadership, negotiators heard from the very top and an ambitious vision has been put forth by Presidents and Prime Ministers. This is similar to the Paris negotiations in 2015, when ambitious commitments from world leaders at the onset of the conference spurred ambition and action during the days to come.

President Biden unveiled a new global commitment to cut back on methane emissions. The pledge commits signatories to a collective goal of reducing methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. The U.S. and EU announced it in September and have so far recruited more than 100 world governments to join. Cutting emissions of methane, one of the most damaging greenhouse gases, is a critical part of staying below 1.5 degrees of increase in average global temperatures necessary to avoid much of the worst impacts of climate change. Swift action to reduce methane pollution from the world’s major sources is the most immediate way we can slow warming now.

Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada who was also at the conference, said we need to do more than just set future emission reductions but also institute a global price on carbon. He was joined in support by the European Commission, IMF, and Scandinavian leadership. While Trudeau boasted about the successes of the carbon tax his government introduced in Canada, he also was clear that the path hasn’t been easy. 

“Sometimes at these international meetings, I have to remind people, Canada isn’t some magical place where it’s easy to do difficult, progressive things. It’s hard to do them in Canada as it is all across the world,” said Trudeau during his remarks to the conference.

President Modi of India also released their much anticipated Nationally Determined Commitment to the Paris Agreement (NDC). The country anticipates meeting a net zero goal by 2070, twenty years later than called for in the Paris Agreement. The commitment from India is important as they are one of the top five global emissions countries and continue to develop at a rapid pace. Many feel that this commitment is just not enough from India since it pushes back what many in the scientific community believe to be a critical window for action.

When governments are unwilling to go far enough with their commitments, it becomes pivotal for the private sector to go further.

Not only countries announced new commitments in the first two days of the conference. The global finance community announced $130 trillion of private finance to science-based net zero targets and near-term milestones, through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. In response to these new pledges the COP President Alok Sharma said, “Today, there is more public and private finance for climate action than ever before. But to meet the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and keep 1.5 alive, we need developed countries to deliver on public finance, and to unleash the trillions required in private investment to create a net zero future and protect lives and livelihoods from the devastating effects of climate change.”

As we mentioned in the previous post, finance remains as one of the critical unanswered issues at COP this year. Now that pleasantries are out of the way, we are down to business. There are still major challenges to be overcome as heads of state leave town and leave the rest of the work to environmental ministers and their negotiating teams.

We will be reporting more in coming days so please stay tuned.


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