Editorial: Methane pact is at least a worthwhile start on climate change
The global climate summit going on in Scotland does not carry very high expectations, unfortunately. It's happening in the middle of a pandemic; and COP26, as it is nicknamed, refers to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Climate Change Convention -- making it the 26th time and counting that the U.N. has tried to solve climate change.
Still, not everything is dreary in Glasgow. The methane emissions agreement reached Tuesday has real promise for a lasting positive effect on climate change.
So far, 105 nations including the United States have signed a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
Moreover, in the U.S., a new EPA rule will push oil and gas companies to more accurately detect methane leaks from wells and pipelines, and then fix them. The parties say that rule alone will cut an estimated 41 million tons of methane emissions between 2023 and 2035 -- which, according to CNN, is more greenhouse gas than all the carbon dioxide emitted by U.S. cars and commercial planes in 2019 combined.
Why is limiting methane in the atmosphere such a key component to slowing climate change? Because emissions of methane -- from landfills, livestock and oil and natural gas -- can warm the atmosphere 80 times faster than carbon dioxide.
Among the 105 signers of the Global Methane Pledge are half of the world's 30 top methane-producing countries (but still not China, Australia, India and Russia, four of the globe's biggest.) Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said the agreement is one of the quickest ways countries can begin fighting climate change.
President Joe Biden chided China for not being at the summit.
"We showed up," Biden said at a news conference, pointing out that China did not, despite their desire to be considered a world leader.
Yes we did, and it's a relief to see the U.S. back at the table -- making policy and throwing its weight around for the greater good of the globe.
Biden added that the U.S. has pledged to be a partner with countries that are among the most vulnerable to climate change, which he called "an existential threat to humanity." America, he said, will keep raising its own stakes in fighting climate change.
We welcome these statements. It is imperative the nation continue to press forward, no matter who is in office.
The truth is, if climate change is a partisan issue in the U.S., then we're doing politics wrong. Methane reduction -- and putting a stop to deforestation, which was another agreement reached Tuesday -- is a global issue to which the U.S. should remain in the forefront, today and forever.