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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

COP26: China, US announce plan to work together to cut down methane emissions

In a joint statement, the two countries said that they considered “increased action to control and reduce such emissions to be a matter of necessity” in the 2020s.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Glasgow |
Updated: November 12, 2021 12:27:07 am
A delegate at COP26 in Glasgow on Thursday. (Reuters)

An unexpected bilateral agreement between US and China, in which Beijing has promised to finalise a plan to reduce its methane emissions this decade, brought fresh excitement at the Glasgow climate conference as negotiators continued their efforts to iron out the knotty issues which have been halting progress.

China had stayed away from a pledge that over 100 other countries had made last week — to make 30 per cent cut in methane emissions from current levels by 2030. US was part of that pledge. In the bilateral agreement, China has not taken any targets on methane emission cuts but only said it would work towards reducing it. But that is still being seen as a forward movement, considering that China is one of the biggest emitters of methane.

Methane is one of the six greenhouse gases primarily responsible for global warming. Molecule for molecule, it is much more harmful than carbon dioxide, the most widespread greenhouse gas, though it remains in the atmosphere for a considerably lesser time in comparison to CO2. Over a 20-year period, methane has a global warming potential that is more than 80 times that of carbon dioxide.

China and the US have been having productive bilateral dialogue on climate action for the last few years. The Chinese promise to let its greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2030 had also come in a similar bilateral statement.

In a joint statement issued late on Wednesday, the two countries said they considered “increased action to control and reduce such emissions to be a matter of necessity” in the 2020s.

On the reduction of CO2 emissions, the US underlined that its electricity generation would become 100 per cent carbon-free by the year 2035. China said it would initiate a phase-down of coal consumption during its 15th five year plan, starting 2025, and “make best efforts to accelerate this work”.

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