Biden calls for global methane cuts

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US President Joe Biden is urging world leaders to join the United States and European Union in a pledge to cut methane emissions, hoping to build momentum before an international summit on climate change begins next month.

Biden made the remarks during a virtual meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), a follow-up to an Earth Day meeting he hosted in April to unveil new US greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and press other countries to do more to curb theirs.

The United Kingdom heeded the call, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledging to be among the first signatories of the Global Methane Pledge to reduce emissions of the harmful gas.

Argentina, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico also joined the alliance, while Ghana and Iraq signaled interest in joining, according to a White House summary of the meeting, which noted those countries represent six of the top 15 methane emitters globally.

Tackling climate change is one of Biden's top domestic and international priorities, and the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 is seen as a critical moment for the world to commit to doing more to halt rising temperatures.

The United Nations said on Thursday the pace of climate change had not been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the world was losing its battle to cut emissions enough to cap global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Biden asked other nations on Friday to join a pact agreed by the United States and the EU to aim to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030.

"This will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but ... it will also produce a very valuable side benefit like improving public health and agricultural output," Biden told the leaders.

"We believe the collective goal is both ambitious but realistic, and we urge you to join us in announcing this pledge at COP26."

Globally, methane emissions are responsible for about 30 per cent of warming since the pre-industrial era, according to the United Nations. A recent report by UN climate scientists said that cutting methane emissions is the fastest way to slow down global warming.

Leaders from Argentina, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Britain and the European Union took part in the MEF, along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

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