Climate summit sees new commitments on methane reduction and saving forests

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  • Second day of the UN climate conference COP26
  • Dozens of countries join US-led methane reduction effort
  • More than 100 leaders pledge to stop deforestation by 2030
  • US-China sparring casts a shadow
  • Developed countries advance in climate finance

GLASGOW, Nov. 2 (Reuters) – Leaders at the COP26 global climate conference on Tuesday pledged to halt deforestation by the end of the decade and cut emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane in order to slow climate change.

The second day of the two-week summit in Glasgow, Scotland also saw wealthy countries take overdue action to deliver long-promised financial assistance to developing countries most affected by global warming.

The United Nations conference aims to keep alive a target of capping temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, to avoid even greater damage than already caused by the greenhouse gas.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the event attended by nearly 200 countries, said he welcomed the latest measures but called for caution.

“We have to be careful to guard against false hopes and not in any way think the job is done, because it is not. There is still a very long way to go,” he said. declared at a press conference.

More than 100 countries have joined a US and EU-led effort to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels, potentially a step to stem the overheating of the planet.

Leaders of developing countries most exposed to the effects of climate change, such as heat waves, droughts, storms and floods, told delegates the stakes could not be higher.

“Let us work for the survival of our own and of all species. Let us not choose extinction, ”said Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley.

The Global Methane Pledge, launched Tuesday after being announced in September with just a few signatories, now covers countries accounting for nearly half of global methane emissions and 70% of global GDP, US President Joe Biden said.

Methane has a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but 80 times more powerful at warming the planet. Reducing gas emissions, estimated to have accounted for 30% of global warming since pre-industrial times, is one of the most effective ways to slow climate change.

Among the signatories is Brazil – one of the top five emitters of methane, generated in the digestive system of cows, in landfill waste and in the production of oil and gas. Three others – China, Russia and India – have not signed, while Australia has said it will not support the pledge.

The United States has also unveiled its own national crackdown proposal with a focus on the oil and gas sector, where leaked infrastructure allows methane to escape into the atmosphere. Read more

LOST FORESTS

More than 100 national leaders have also signed a pledge to stop the destruction of the world’s forests which absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the nonprofit World Resources Institute.

In 2020, the world lost 258,000 square kilometers (100,000 square miles) of forest – an area larger than the UK, according to WRI’s Global Forest Watch. The conservation charity WWF estimates that 27 football pitches in the forest are lost every minute.

The commitment to stop and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade is backed by $ 19 billion in public and private funds to invest in forest protection and restoration. Read more

Signatories again include Brazil, which has led to skyrocketing deforestation under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Together, they represent 85% of the world’s forests.

Under the agreement, 12 countries pledged to provide $ 12 billion in public funding between 2021 and 2025 to developing countries to restore degraded lands and fight forest fires.

At least $ 7.2 billion will come from private sector investors with $ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, who have also pledged to stop investing in deforestation-related activities such as cultivation. livestock, palm oil and soybeans and pulp production.

“STANDARD DOUBLES”

The funding can help reduce mistrust among developing countries caused by the failure of rich countries to deliver on their 2009 pledge to spend $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to help them tackle climate change.

This mistrust is one of the main obstacles to climate progress, making some developing countries reluctant to accept drastic emission reductions.

“We see double standards creeping into our thinking, whereby those who have already benefited from carbon-based economies would like to prevent emerging economies from laying a similar foundation for their political stability, social development and economic prosperity.” , said Suriname President Chan Santokhi.

On Tuesday, Japan announced it would offer up to $ 10 billion over five years in additional aid to support decarbonization in Asia.

US climate envoy John Kerry said this could leverage an additional $ 8 billion from the World Bank and other sources, likely reaching the $ 100 billion threshold in climate finance by now. 2022, rather than 2023 as previously planned.

In another agreement signed on Tuesday, Britain and India launched a plan to improve connections between global power grids in order to accelerate the transition to greener energy. Read more

But so far there has been little sign of a common will from the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, China and the United States, which together account for over 40% of global emissions but disagree on many questions.

Biden has blamed China and major oil producer Russia for failing to meet their climate targets in Glasgow, while Beijing has rejected Washington’s efforts to separate climate issues from their broader disagreements.

The Communist Party-led Global Times said in an editorial Monday that Washington’s attitude had made it “impossible for China to see potential for fair negotiation amid the tensions.” China said on Tuesday that President Xi Jinping, who had decided not to attend in person, had not been given the opportunity to give a video speech and had to send a written response instead – in which he did not. offered no additional commitment.

The UK government said it wanted people to attend the conference in person and offered those absent the option to provide addresses or recorded statements.

Reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels, Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Jake Spring, Simon Jessop, William James and Ilze Filks in Glasgow; David Stanway, Josh Horwitz and Yew Lun Tian; Writing by Kevin Liffey and Gavin Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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