SHARM EL-SHEIKH–U.S.leaders took aim at methane during speeches at COP27, describing it as the fastest path to meeting global climate goals.
“Cutting methane by at least 30% by 2030 can be our best chance to keep within reach 1.5°C,” Biden said, referring to the temperature target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Prior to Biden’s remarks, the U.S. promised $20 billion for tackling methane emissions, a key strategy for taming the climate crisis by 2030. Among the policies rolled out by the administration Friday were: a strengthening of the federal rule on methane emissions from oil and gas extraction, a multilateral agreement with the U.K, EU, Norway, Japan, and Canada to reduce emissions from exporting and importing methane gas, and joining with Germany and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in a $500 million investment to develop Egypt’s renewable energy sector and take gas offline.
The U.S. is not alone in its efforts, Biden said, noting 130 countries have now endorsed the Global Methane Pledge, committing to collectively reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 over 2020 levels. Additional signatories are expected next week.
“If we can accelerate action on these game changers we can reach our goal,” Biden said, pledging to meet U.S. emissions targets by 2030.
Reactions to Biden’s speech and U.S. efforts were mixed. Protestors at the event called on wealthy nations including the U.S. to do more to make up for the environmental damage they caused. Protestors called for funding for loss and damages and an end to fossil fuel extraction.
UN Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry described the challenge ahead as a huge one but reiterated the U.S. commitment to meeting the moment. “There’s a lot more that needs to be done and we’re committed to doing everything necessary to meet this challenge,” Kerry said.
A recent UN report released in October said current national commitments would still see global emissions rise 10.6% from 2010 levels by 2030, an improvement from last year’s 13.7% assessed figure, but nowhere near the 45% cut necessary according to the IPCC.
Biden described the current moment as a pivotal one for the planet. “The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet,” he said.
He also apologized for the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement during the Trump administration and said the country is resuming its position as a leader in the fight against climate change.
U.S. senators speaking earlier in the day expressed similar sentiments. “We’re back. We’re in. We’re ready to lead, and we’re not finished yet,” U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said.