GLASGLOW, United Kingdom | Heads of the planet came to the aid of the atmosphere on Tuesday at COP26 with two deals aimed at containing the most harmful greenhouse gases: less methane and more trees.
Also read: COP26: Leaders commit deforestation
With global warming limited to + 1.5 ° C in their view, world leaders are under pressure to do more against climate change at a two-week UN climate conference in Glasgow (Scotland).
One hundred of them, representing more than 40% of global methane emissions, are committed to drastically reducing these gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. Among them are the European Union and the United States. States, but no major pollutants like China, Russia and India.
“Methane is one of the gases we can rapidly reduce. By doing so, it will instantly slow down climate change,” said Ursula van der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
“It is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases,” added US President Joe Biden, who promised that the signatories would make up 70% of world GDP.
Methane (CH4), less well known than CO2, is the second greenhouse gas associated with human activity, mainly animal feed, fossil fuels (especially industrial leaks) and waste. After all, if it is in the atmosphere for a short time, its warming effect is much greater than that of carbon dioxide, 80 times greater.
“This is a historic moment,” said Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA). In ten years, according to him, the commitment to eliminate emissions from “all transport sectors” of the world will be equal.
For Think Tank Amber, the deal “changes the game” even though most countries are not in coal mining. “It shows that the world is recognizing the amazing weather effect of methane.” In the short term, methane leaked from coal mines weighs more than all CO2 emissions in Europe, he said.
- Listen to an interview with Professor Catherine Potwin in the Department of Biology at McGill University, which specializes in climate and tropical ecology
Release less, but absorb more. Hundreds of countries that shelter 85% of the world’s forests, including Brazil, have been widely criticized for their environmental policies, promising on Tuesday to stop deforestation.
The planet’s lungs and forests, along with the oceans, play a key role in the fight against climate change by absorbing a significant portion of the billions of tons of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year by human activity.
The initiative will benefit $ 19.2 billion (€ 16.5 billion) in public and private funding over several years.
“We cannot deal with catastrophic damage to habitats and species without addressing climate change and without addressing our natural environment and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
According to the UK Presidency of COP26, forests are currently declining at an “alarming rate” of 27 football pitches per minute. And according to the NGO Global Forest Watch, deforestation in the world has accelerated in recent years.
The new pledge against deforestation echoes the New York Declaration on Forests 2014, with many countries, businesses and local people pledging to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030.
But for NGOs like Greenpeace, the 2030 goal highlighted on Tuesday is a long way off and will give the green light to “extra decade of deforestation”.
Global Witness expressed fears that similar “previous engagement failures” would be repeated due to insufficient funding and an uncertain follow-up to a given promise.