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Turning pledges into action: COP28 Global Methane Pledge Ministerial

December 8, 2023 Work Area: Methane

Ministers celebrated progress at the Global Methane Pledge Ministerial Meeting – hosted by Clean Air Task Force — at COP28 this week, showcasing national actions and catalytic grant funding to deliver on the goal to cut methane at least 30% by 2030. This year, Global Methane Partners announced: 

  • Over $1 billion in new grant funding for methane action mobilized since COP27, more than triple current levels, which will mobilize billions in investment to reduce methane.  
  • New national commitments and legislation from top oil and gas methane emitters alongside decisive action on waste, food, and agriculture – including strong methane emissions standards for oil and gas from the U.S. and new methane regulations from Canada.  
  • Transformational data tools including the full launch of the Methane Alert and Response System, a new Data for Methane Action Campaign, and a new platform to better track waste methane emissions in cities around the world. 
  • New members and expanded leadership. Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Germany, Japan, and Nigeria joined the United States and European Union as Global Methane Pledge Champions. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Romania, and Angola joined the Global Methane Pledge, bringing total participation to 156 governments. 

Speakers and panellists explored successes and challenges faced since COP27 in country implementation, resource mobilization and project execution, and focused on how to turn these learnings into measurable actions that cut methane emissions. 

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, opened the Methane Ministerial with a thanks to CATF’s work in driving action on methane mitigation forward.  

“I thank everyone for coming and everyone’s continued resolve to tackle methane – which is the fastest, simplest, least expensive, most efficient way of being able to rapidly reduce emissions on the planet.”

“With better tracking, you can run but you can’t hide. No more misleading. We’ll be able to see who is cutting their emissions and who isn’t,” Kerry said.   

Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, stressed the need to speed up action on the ground.  

“The technology to do so is already available and is already economical. In the European Union, we continue to strengthen our domestic regulations and actions in line with our Global Methane Pledge action, and we are in the final stages of adopting our first-ever methane legislation for the energy sector.”

Šefčovič highlighted the importance of reducing methane emissions in other sectors as well, such as waste and agriculture. “Under the recent update of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, 387 billion Euros in funding is available for our farmers, of which 40% are dedicated to climate action.” He added that experts are working on a “best practice” document for reducing methane emissions in the sector.  

Concluding his speech, he reaffirmed EU’s international commitments on methane emissions reductions, adding that the European financial institutions are significantly investing in international methane abatement. “Almost 1.8 billion Euros, with “b”, from the European Investment Bank and   more than 200 million Euros from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will go in support of our partners.” 

Kadri Simson, EU Commissioner for Energy, said that the Global Methane Pledge has been a success since its launch in Glasgow and that it is time to show how the commitments are turned into action. 

“When it comes to energy, my field of responsibility, 70% of methane emissions from fossil fuel operations could be reduced with existing technology and 80% could be implemented at no net cost.”  

In this regard, Simson highlighted the key role of EU methane regulation for the energy sector. She added that the European Union is the largest importer of fossil fuels and therefore has the responsibility to “deal with the imports.”  

Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme stressed the importance of cutting methane emissions while also decarbonizing our economies.  

“Cutting methane is not a get-out-of-jail card. It is an important measure – we have to reduce flaring, venting, and leakage, but we also have to decarbonize our economies. It is not an either-or, it’s both. And it’s now.”

Andersen thanked stakeholders for providing UNEP with the funds and the mandate to operate the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO), which will publicly provide satellite-based observations. She added that a collaboration with IEA, The Netherlands Institute for Space Research, and the French Energy Research Institute run by IMEO will allow to pinpoint exactly where the methane leaks are coming from. “Either we will go directly and notify the government, or we will notify the company. But notify we will.”  

Marcelo Mena, CEO of the Global Methane Hub, spoke during the second panel of the ministerial and highlighted the urgency of cutting methane pollution now to slow global warming. 

He also highlighted the gap in funding to cut methane emissions: “only 2% of finance go to methane mitigation despite it being nearly half the problem.” And spoke about the importance of a new initiative, Lowering Organic Waste Methane (LOW-Methane), that will unlock $10 billion to deliver at least 1 million metric tons of annual waste sector methane reductions before 2030.  

Speaking at the final panel of the methane ministerial on advancing food security and improving health while reducing methane emissions, Chief Sustainability Officer at Google, Kate Brandt, emphasized the role of accessible information in the transition to a sustainable future.  

“We need to accelerate progress towards the global methane target pledge,” she said. “We believe that technology, particularly AI, has a large role that it can play in accelerating that mitigation.”  

She added that meaningful action on methane has been historically hindered by inaccurate information on the magnitude and location of methane emissions. Google is increasing funding to methane solutions for a total of 8.25 million dollars through an extended partnership with Global Methane Hub, as part of their “Methane Data to Action” campaign, to support UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory in developing methane alerts and response system on a global scale. 

Concluding the series of impactful speeches, Jonathan Banks, Global Director of Methane Pollution Prevention at Clean Air Task Force, challenged countries to incorporate methane mitigation into their climate goals under the Paris Agreement, develop methane action plans, and report on progress regularly. He also urged banks and investors to prioritize methane projects and push their clients to take action.   

“What we are trying to do is the single greatest action we can take to finally start bending the curve on climate. All the money raised, the new commitments and new partners will mean nothing if we don’t go forth from here to develop and implement actions and policies that start cutting methane today,” Banks said.  

Watch the full recording of the ministerial here.  

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