COP27: More join methane pact as focus turns to farms

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and others attend the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 17 (Reuters) - More than 150 countries have signed up to a global pact to reduce methane emissions, around 50 more than when the initiative launched last year, the United States and European Union said on Thursday.

The pledge to cut emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas by 30% this decade is central to global efforts to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a threshold scientists say must be maintained to avoid the worst of climate change.

The United States and the EU launched the Global Methane Pledge during the Glasgow climate talks last year.

"This is absolutely critical to our ability to keep 1.5 degrees in reach," Kerry told a meeting of ministers announcing the progress.

Now 95% of countries have included methane in their nationally determined contributions, or promises countries make to reduced emissions.

China and India, the top two methane emitters, as well as Russia have not signed up for the pact, he said.

But in a surprise moment, China's top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua attended the ministerial meeting. He said he had been invited by his "good friend" Kerry.

He then talked about China's methane strategy, but stopped short of joining the global effort.

"I hope by sharing this with you that we'll be able to seek cooperation with all of you in different ways," Xie said through a translator.

Earlier on Thursday, Kerry and Xie held a 30-minute meeting in China's delegation office.

Fifty of the signatories to the Global Methane Pledge have unveiled detailed strategies to cut emissions.

The United States and the EU will launch other initiatives on Thursday under the Global Methane Pledge that tackles oil and gas, agriculture and waste sectors.

Among them is an effort with the U.N.’s International Fund for Agricultural Development to help smallhold farmers in Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Uruguay and Vietnam to reduce methane in their dairy systems.

Another is a program providing $70 million for research on enteric fermentation - the digestive process in which some animals produce gas and the largest single source of methane emissions from agriculture.

The United States and the EU also announced that Carbon Mapper, which tracks methane by satellite, will develop a global waste sector methane baseline assessment on landfills and dumpsites. The waste sector accounts for 20% of methane emissions.

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Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Barbara Lewis

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