UAE signs landmark global methane pledge at Cop26

Dozens of countries promise to reduce output of the greenhouse gas by 30 per cent

The UAE has signed a pledge backed by more than 100 countries at Cop26 which aims to slash global emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas which is highly potent in warming the planet.

The 103 countries are promising to reduce their methane output by at least 30 per cent this decade.

“Methane is one of the gases we can cut fastest,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. “Doing that will immediately slow down climate change.”

The pledge, championed by the US and EU, was launched in Glasgow after months of diplomatic efforts to build support. The countries that backed it represent nearly half of global methane emissions and 70 per cent of global income.

The UAE hopes to share its experience in building a low-methane energy sector with the other signatories to the pledge, state news agency Wam reported.

"The UAE is a keen supporter of the global efforts to address climate change," said Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

"Recognising the urgent need for multilateral co-operation in this regard, we are proud to join the Global Methane Pledge and reaffirm our commitment to cutting down on methane emissions through domestic policy-making and developing innovative solutions.”

Over five decades, the UAE has reduced the volume of natural gas flared in the domestic energy sector by more than 90 per cent.

It aims to use drones and satellites to achieve a 'gold standard' for emissions monitoring agreed to by major oil and gas producers.

"The UAE is also turning methane into opportunity with our ambitions to convert waste to energy," said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change.

"Together, this makes the UAE a unique leader in methane stewardship. We are delighted to help others, to share our experiences with the world and commit to the Global Methane Pledge."

'Game-changing'

US President Joe Biden said the deal was a “game-changing commitment".

He said the US would seek to curb emissions at home by upgrading oil and gas wells and incentivising farmers to cut their methane output.

“It's going to make a huge difference and not just when it comes to fighting climate change,” he said, highlighting the health and economic benefits of reducing pipeline leaks.

“This isn't just something we have to do to protect the environment in future. It's an enormous opportunity for all of us, all of our nations, to create jobs and make meeting climate goals a core part of our global economic recovery.”

Methane comes from various sources including livestock, fossil fuel extraction and leaky pipelines. The UN attributes about a quarter of global warming to the gas.

Although it does not stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years like CO2, it is many times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Backers of the pledge include Canada, Iraq, Indonesia and Japan but notable omissions include Australia, India, Russia and China.

“With this initiative, you're making it possible for us to achieve our goal, to be able to lower the warming” of the planet, said US climate envoy John Kerry.

It comes after a separate agreement to tackle deforestation in which more than 100 countries, including the UAE, pledged to restore the planet's natural carbon sinks.

The UAE's climate envoy earlier welcomed Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch to the UAE pavilion at Cop26.

The envoy's office said it was "proud that our historic, strategic ties with Morocco, based on our common goals, now extend into opportunities for cooperation in energy and climate action".

Philanthropic donors have promised $200 million towards global emissions cuts, the US and EU said. Amazon owner Jeff Bezos and the Rockefeller and Ikea foundations are among those offering money.

UN experts said large cuts in methane emissions could prevent nearly 0.3ºC of global warming by 2045. The aim of the Cop26 talks is to stop temperatures rising more than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

Methane levels in the atmosphere are at their highest for about 800,000 years, scientists have said.

Updated: November 2nd 2021, 4:11 PM
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