One of the greatest challenges of the world today is reducing methane emissions, the 'dirty gas' that is causing the climate to change rapidly. There are many things that we can do to reduce the impact of methane, but the best approach is for the international community to unite in addressing this issue.

China's explicit commitment to addressing methane emissions

Methane emissions from the coal sector, livestock, and agriculture are some of the biggest culprits for greenhouse gas emissions. They account for about a fifth of the global total.

At COP 26, Xie Zhenhua, China's senior climate change envoy, announced a plan to reduce methane emissions. The plan, which is still being formulated, will include new financing mechanisms. In 2021-2025, China will develop an action plan for controlling methane in the coal and oil and gas sectors.

While methane is a potent greenhouse gas, it is a short-lived gas. This means it stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide, which is a long-lived gas. As a result, controlling methane is a critical part of the global effort to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A COP 26 session on deforestation and methane emissions was organized by Ceres, an organization that works to mobilize investor and business support for climate action. During the meeting, more than 100 countries pledged to halt deforestation by 2030.

Three of the four biggest emitters of methane have abstained

A recent survey has identified three of the largest methane emitters - United States, China, and Russia - as not signing the Global Methane Pledge. This is despite the fact that the Global Methane Pledge requires countries to reduce their methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. It is estimated that such a reduction could cut global warming by about 0.2 degrees.

Although most of the attention for this pledge has been on fixing leaky pipelines and other infrastructure, methane emissions are also produced by farming. Agriculture is responsible for 40 to 53 percent of human-caused methane emissions. And as a result, it is seen as a vital sector for combating climate change.

The Paris Climate Agreement called for nations to cut their methane emissions. They also emphasized the need to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Moreover, they stressed the importance of nature in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the importance of agriculture, the sector has not been directly included in global GHG mitigation agreements. Nevertheless, several high-level initiatives have been launched to address the issue. Some of the most important include:

Global Methane Pledge - An international side deal to the UN climate talks, the Global Methane Pledge was launched by the U.S. and the European Union in September 2015. The pledge required the world's top methane emitters to commit to reducing their methane emissions by at least 30% by the end of 2030.

A better regulated international carbon trading market

The recent UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow ended on Saturday without an official deadline for a coal phaseout, but with a key agreement on carbon markets regulation. This article highlights the key features of the new rules and explores how they might increase the value of the international carbon trading market.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement lays out a detailed framework for how countries should operate international carbon markets. These new rules are intended to improve the liquidity, transparency and social integrity of the global carbon trading market.

Aside from ratcheting up the efficiency of the existing system, the new rules also address some important non-market mechanisms. For example, the 'San Jose Principles', a set of guiding principles for measuring climate change, aims to promote the transparency of key measurement rules.

It's no secret that the voluntary carbon credit industry has been criticized for regulatory loopholes. In particular, the pricing of carbon credits is skewed towards the lower end of the spectrum.

The global community can tackle methane

The Global Methane Pledge, launched in November of last year at the climate change talks in Glasgow, Scotland, has generated unprecedented momentum for methane action across the world. With 103 governments signing the pledge, it covers more than half of the world's methane emissions. This is about the equivalent of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which the world's leaders agreed is the limit for avoiding dangerous climate tipping points.

A key objective of the pledge is to cut methane emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030. In order to reduce methane, governments will have to address leaks from fossil fuel infrastructure. However, this should not distract from other efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Another way to tackle methane is through a new Methane Alert and Response System. It is a satellite-based system that monitors methane emissions from companies. By collecting data from various sources and reshuffling them, the system can help governments prioritize abatement actions.

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