Philanthropies commit over $200 million as 24 more countries join the Global Methane Pledge

by CCAC secretariat - 19 October, 2021
With these new commitments, 9 of the top 20 methane emitters are now participating in the Pledge, representing about 30 per cent of global methane emissions and 60 per cent of the global economy.

Global commitment to reduce methane emissions gathered pace this week as 20 leading philanthropic organizations committed $223 million to drastically reduce methane emissions globally and to support of the Global Methane Pledge spearheaded by the United States (U.S.) and European Union (E.U.).

24 more countries announced that they would sign onto the pledge, bringing the total number of countries committed to reducing methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 to 32. More are expected to join by COP26 in a couple weeks’ time.

The announcements were made during a virtual ministerial hosted by U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and European Commission Executive Vice President, Frans Timmermans.  They were joined by Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Richard Morris, Founder and Director of the High Tide Foundation, who represented the 20 philanthropies at the meeting.

Mr. Kerry thanked philanthropies for the financial commitment to methane reductions saying the funds would empower governments that support the pledge to be able to implement the measures, systems, and programs that are needed to scale up methane solutions. He called on more governments to sign on.

“We’re all very eager to roll up our sleeves and begin to work,” Mr. Kerry said. “By COP26 when we launch the Global Methane Pledge, we look forward to welcoming all governments that are ready to tackle methane as the single fastest strategy that we have to keep a safer 1.5 degree Celsius future within reach.”

Mr. Morris said that he was honored to speak on behalf of donors saying philanthropy has a vital role to play in climate change.  He noted that citizens and leaders worldwide have paid greater attention to the fact that methane is the fastest down payment on containing climate change. He said the funds raised so far aimed to “jump start the implementation of the Global methane Pledge and support government efforts”.

“As we work in the donor community to secure even more funding for methane reductions, we are committed to deploying the capital nimbly and entrepreneurially to generate the most catalytic change in the shortest period of time,” Mr. Morris said.

“On behalf of the community of methane donors, I would like to thank the leaders of the countries who have signed the Global Methane Pledge for inspiring us to dream big in addressing climate change. I hope in 2030 we can look back at today’s event with pride that the world came together to take concrete action on methane leaks to ensure a just and sustainable future for all.”

Mr. Timmermans said that while countries have different starting points and different local situations, they could all reduce their methane emissions substantially to generate a major global impact. Mr Timmermans said an important first step was to plug the global data gap on methane emissions.

“We need to step up monitoring and emissions measurement, reporting and verification,” he said. “The EU supports UNEP in establishing an independent International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO). It will be a key element in delivering on the Global Methane Pledge.”

UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen, said methane mitigation is the stand-out option for achieving near and long-term benefits and that current emissions must be reduced considerably to ensure the world stays on a 1.5⁰C pathway. She reminded participants that staying on that path also means increased efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Let me be clear, this is not a get out of jail free card. It is important that we also swiftly decarbonize our energy system. Action on methane should be viewed as complementary in the short-term to global efforts to reduce CO2, so that we can achieve the 1.5⁰C goal,” Ms. Andersen said.

“The Global Methane Assessment that we carried out under the banner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) highlights some concrete ways to change the climate trajectory within the next 20 years. That is a critical timeframe for slowing warming and for slowing self-reinforcing feedbacks.”

Ms. Andersen said UNEP was proud to host the CCAC's Secretariat and the soon to be launched IMEO. She said she looked forward to collaborating with partners on the IMEO to create a comprehensive public dataset to address the methane challenge.

More Countries Join the Pledge.

Fifteen countries spoke during the event outlining the efforts they are taking, and will take in future, to reduce methane.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said the Canadian government fully understands that slashing methane is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to address the current climate crisis. He said Canada would be taking steps to support the pledge and achieve additional reductions in the oil and gas sector outlined by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“As part of this pledge we will be bringing forward regulations to curb methane emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector by at least 75 per cent below 2012 levels by 2030,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “This makes Canada the first country to support the Global Methane Pledge and the 75 per cent target proposed by the IEA. The 75 per cent target is an important goal, and we encourage other oil and gas nations to adopt it.”

Malik Amin Aslam, Federal Minister and Adviser to the Prime Minister for Climate Change, Pakistan, welcomed the Pledge saying it could help reduce methane emissions in Pakistan’s oil and gas and agriculture sectors, while providing important co-benefits like increased productivity and enhanced economic efficiency.

“The Global Methane Pledge is something that is going to be very useful. This is a tool that can really help us avoid the tipping points on climate change. It is a fast-track solution. The next decade is critical in deciding on how we are going to live the next century. If we don’t deal with the climate crisis in the next decade, it will already be too late. The Pledge can really start climate action now in most countries.”  

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany said Germany was happy to sign onto the pledge and further decrease emissions in line with its commitments to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2045. She said Germany was happy to continue supporting other countries through its International Climate Initiative (IKI).

“It is imperative that we keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5⁰C within our reach. This means that we need to take targeted measures and soon as possible and within this decade,” Ms. Schwarzelühr-Sutter said. “Methane is a highly active greenhouse gas and, in many cases, measures to reduce methane emissions represent low hanging fruit, especially in the energy sector. Preventing and limiting leakage from the natural gas sector infrastructure, for example, will improve the efficiency of the entire industry.”

Stéphane Crouzat, France’s Climate Ambassador, said it was time to tackle methane emissions because methane has huge implications for climate change in the near term.

“The global methane pledge is a major step to keeping 1.5⁰C within reach. By collectively reducing methane emissions by 30 per cent between 2020 and 2030, signatory countries could contribute to reducing global warming by up to 0.2⁰C by 2050,” Mr. Crouzat said. “It is a pragmatic announcement targeting all sectors but recognizes the main short-term sources are in the energy sector, in particular oil and gas, where leaks account for one-third of human induced emissions.”

Andrew Yatilman, Director of the Office Environment and Emergency Management, for the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) said efforts to rapidly reduce powerful climate forcers like methane was the key to the survival of small islands and other highly vulnerable communities.

“We are optimistic that the pledge will grow to include the whole world, including all major economies and that we can all work together on effective implementation, especially through the CCAC,” Mr. Yatilman said. “We have reached out to our neighbors in the Pacific, as well as to the entire Alliance of Small Island States and the High Ambition Coalition, with the hopes of gathering their strength and conviction to this cause, knowing that for many of us the success of this pledge is the difference between survival and perishing under the rising seas.”

Alfred Magalang, Head of the Philippines Climate Change Office said: “The Philippines joins other countries with affirmation of our intention to jointly implement domestic actions to reduce methane and be supported in that effort by bodies such as the CCAC and Global Methane Initiative, with which many of us have a strong history of collaboration. The Philippines will endeavor to scale up near-term climate change actions through the mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, to achieve multiple benefits for health, biodiversity, air quality and climate.”

Ms. Takao Suzuki, Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs provided a video message saying Japan will continue to reduce its domestic methane emissions and continue to develop methane reduction technologies. Japan will be continue to be actively involved in methane reduction initiatives and help lead global efforts to reduce emissions

Other countries that spoke during the call included: Argentina, Nigeria, Rwanda, Jordan, Morocco, Israel, Russia, Bulgaria, and Portugal.

Former New York Mayor, businessman and philanthropist, Michael Bloomberg, also provided a video message committing to support the pledge.

Mr Kerry thanked all who participated and called on them to encourage other countries to join.

In addition to the U.S. and E.U. the Global Methane Pledge now includes:

(All but five of the current signatory countries are CCAC Partners. The links above take you to CCAC country partner pages)

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accounts for about half of the 1.0 degree Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era, making methane action an essential complement to energy sector decarbonization. 

Countries joining the Global Methane Pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030 and moving towards using highest tier IPCC good practice inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources. Successful implementation of the Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050.

The United States, the European Union, and other early supporters will continue to enlist additional countries to join the Global Methane Pledge pending its formal launch at COP 26.