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This article originally appeared on Oxfam America's website here
If you’re a fan of win-win outcomes for climate and development—and who isn’t—there’s a lot to like in the communiqué that was released yesterday by North American leaders at this year’s “Three Amigos” Summit.
Of particular note, Mexico officially announced its intention to join Canada and the United States in adopting a target to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent (below 2012 levels) by 2025.
Although this announcement isn’t grabbing the summit’s climate-related headlines (that distinction goes to the leaders’ pledge for North America to generate 50 percent of its electricity from clean power sources by 2025), the North American methane target is a big deal for mitigating climate change and for promoting sustainable development locally and globally. Here’s why.
A win for climate
A win for development
So what’s next? Targets are certainly useful, but don’t actually reduce emissions on their own. Specific actions will need to be outlined, implemented, and evaluated over time—particularly since methane emissions from oil and gas systems are difficult to estimate, though the data are improving.
The United States is out in front of its North American peers, having recently finalized emissions standards for new and modified oil and natural gas systems. But there is critical unfinished business left for all countries in managing methane emissions from existing sources, as was made painfully evident by the Alisa Canyon disaster, which spewed out a whopping 97,000 metric tons of methane over five months.
With this week’s summit, the Three Amigos are setting the right tone on methane. If they can deliver aggressive action now, the benefits will be paying dividends for their citizens and the world for years to come.