COP26 Roundup: Methane, Carbon Pricing, Coal

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Methane Emissions  

Methane emissions were high on the agenda on the second day of the COP26 conference, with the US and the EU formally launching the Global Methane Pledge they first unveiled in September. Signatories to this agreement have committed to cutting methane emissions 30% by 2030. Over 100 countries have now signed up, US President Joe Biden told a COP26 event. The US has also announced steps it will take at home to implement the agreement. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that Brussels will also launch new methane regulations next month. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said he is fully committed to "doing the hard work" at home to develop and implement a plan to slash methane emissions. He said that Canada was going beyond the requirement of the Global Methane Pledge by committing to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by at least 75% by 2030.

Carbon Pricing and Article 6

Negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement were due to begin in earnest on Wednesday — after the conclusion of the two-day leaders' segment of COP26 on Tuesday. But a leaders' roundtable on carbon pricing touched on some of the key issues involved. Von der Leyen said that Europe had showed carbon pricing can work and that it hopes this will be adopted more widely. This would be preferable, she said, to the carbon border adjustment mechanism Europe has proposed as an alternative to prevent "carbon leakage." International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva also spoke of the importance of setting a minimum global carbon price, which World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala agreed would be less of a headache than carbon border levies, which developing countries in particular are afraid of.

Green Grids

World leaders have backed a new Green Grid Initiative that supports a massive increase in the transmission and distribution of renewable electricity generated by solar and wind power. The scheme aims to address the mismatch between renewable power and the global grid network that is currently ill-equipped to transmit green electricity to consumers and communities that need it most. The idea is to build a global power network across time zones and borders that can bring hydropower, solar and wind-generated electricity from the best locations, such as wet, mountainous countries, deserts and windy oceans, to demand hotspots that currently rely on fossil fuels. The project is backed by the US, India, the UK and France, as well as countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Clean Tech Boost

Over 40 world leaders signed up to a new Breakthrough Agenda, including the US, India, the EU, China, and other developing economies. The aim is to make clean technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice around the world in each of the most polluting sectors by 2030. The plan will see countries and businesses work closely on a range of international initiatives to accelerate innovation and scale up green industries. These include clean power, zero-emission vehicles, and near-zero emission steel and hydrogen. It could potentially create 20 million new jobs.

Nigeria's Net-Zero Pledge

Nigeria has committed to hit net-zero emissions by 2060. President Muhammadu Buhari told the COP26 summit that the country intends to cut emissions 20% below "business as usual" levels by 2030. The reductions could be increased to 47% if Nigeria can secure "financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity building from the more advanced and more willing international partners," he said. "We are looking for partners in innovation, technology and finance to make cleaner and efficient use of all available resources to make a more sustainable transition in energy markets," Buhari said. Gas will continue to play a role in Nigeria's energy transition until 2040 "without diverting from the goals of the Paris Agreement."

South Africa's Coal Exit

South Africa will receive an initial $8.5 billion commitment from the US and European countries to help it accelerate its transition away from coal-fired power generation. The financing will be provided through loans, grants and investments and risk-sharing instruments over five years to help South Africa move away from coal-fired plants which generated about 90% of the country's electricity last year. President Cyril Ramaphosa said the funds would help support the country's more ambitious pledge to reduce emissions by 2030. It plans to accelerate investment in renewable energy and new sectors like electric vehicles and green hydrogen while helping state-owned utility Eskom to transition away from coal.

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