Leaders gather for pre-COP climate forum

20 September 2021

With 44 days to go until the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, leaders from ten nations plus the European Commission, European Council and United Nations last week joined US President Joe Biden in a closed-door forum at which they underscored the urgency of strengthening climate ambition ahead of COP26 and beyond. The USA and the EU also announced a Global Methane Pledge to cut global methane pollution by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030 through collective action.

Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Kerry at the MEF (Image: @POTUS)

The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), held on 17 September, was a follow-up to the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by Biden in April of this year, at which he pledged to halve US CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. The virtual, closed-door gathering included leaders from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, the European Commission, the European Council, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and the UK as well as the UN Secretary-General. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry chaired a ministerial session with China, Germany, India and Russia.

"Today, I've called us together again to candidly assess our progress," Biden said, adding that he was "grateful" to those who have already strengthened their contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement. However, he described recent climate-related events - as well as recent findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - as a "code red" for humanity, with the time to act narrowing "close to a point of no return".

Participants at the forum addressed four topics: further commitments and actions to be undertaken in the remaining weeks before COP 26; potential participation in the Global Methane Pledge; the importance of a "forward-looking COP outcome" reflecting the collective commitment of parties to the Paris Agreement to continue strengthening their ambition and actions post-Glasgow; and plans to leverage the MEF post-Glasgow as a launchpad for "collective, concrete efforts to scale up climate action during the decisive decade of the 2020s".

Methane pledge

The Global Methane Pledge announced by Biden and the EU will be formally launched at COP26. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which, according to the IPCC, accounts for about half of the 1°C net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era. Rapidly reducing methane emissions is complementary to action on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to reduce global warming in the near term and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C within reach, the EU said.

Countries joining the pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. Delivering on the Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2°C by 2050. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged countries at MEF to join the Pledge and welcomed those that have already signalled their support: Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the USA.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News