COP27 Turns Attention to Methane Emissions

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Science was front and center at the UN's COP27 climate change conference in Egypt on Thursday, with experts presenting the latest findings and many sounding the alarm about the dangers of missing the Paris Agreement's goals.

The day started with a session on the latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns that none of the more hopeful scenarios will be attainable without swift action to slash emissions.

"Today, the scientific community has never been more certain and clearer about man-made climate change," said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.

In another live-streamed session, independent research group Climate Action Tracker (CAT) presented its latest update, suggesting that the world is still on track for 2.4°C of warming under current 2030 targets — with no improvement seen since last year.

CAT called for stronger policies to meet the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C and also warned that the "goldrush for gas" after Russia's invasion of Ukraine risks further undermining efforts to tackle climate change.

CAT's analysis also emphasizes the importance of curbing methane emissions, which will be discussed at COP27 on Friday.

Methane Pledge

Host country and COP27 president Egypt has designated Friday as decarbonization day, with leading oil and gas industry executives expected to speak.

The US and EU will use the occasion to highlight the Global Methane Pledge they unveiled last year at COP26 in Glasgow.

Around 100 countries committed in Glasgow to collectively reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030. That total has since climbed to 122, with more potentially ready to join.

China could be among those edging closer to membership. It didn't sign up in Glasgow last year but it did say that it would draw up an "ambitious national action plan" to address its methane emissions.

At a COP27 side-event on Tuesday hosted by the World Bank, China's climate change envoy Xie Zhenhua confirmed that plan was now ready and said China was willing to cooperate with other countries to curb methane emissions.

Action Plans

The Clean Air Task Force says it expects around 40 countries to turn words about methane emissions into deeds at COP27 by unveiling action plans, detailed roadmaps, stronger regulations and new financing.

The US and EU may also unveil some additional methane initiatives that could target the energy sector, as well as steps to improve the monitoring and reporting of methane emissions.

Kayrros, which uses satellite data to track methane emissions, says that there has not been a significant reduction in emissions from the largest sources around the world this year, "leaving Global Methane Pledge ambitions out of reach."

But Kayrros co-founder and president Antoine Rostand suggests it is not too late to turn things around.

"Based on our analysis, it is entirely achievable that with the right policy and incentives, we could eliminate all serious emitters and even exceed the Global Methane Pledge commitments by 2030," he said.

Similarly the UN Environment Programme has recently stated that the oil and gas industry could reduce its methane emissions by up to 75% by 2030 and that reining in methane emissions is the single fastest way to tackle climate change.

Methane Emissions, Low-Carbon Policy
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