World leaders in Glasgow, Scotland attending COP26 have made two commitments thus far. First, a group of 100 countries have agreed to end deforestation and to reverse the effects of it by the year 2030. These countries have more than 86% of the world’s forests, according to the UK government, which is hosting the summit. Brazil is an especially notable participant given the historical deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Twelve of the 100 or so nations also agreed to provide $12 billion between 2021 and 2025 to help developing countries reach the deforestation goal. The money is to restore degraded land and to support indigenous groups. The second commitment to come from COP26 covers emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas dozens of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Some ninety governments, including the United States have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 2030. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (von der lie-en) explained why this is an important commitment.
Ursula Von Der Leyen, President, European Commission: “When we talk about climate action we look at two different horizons. There’s one of course of climate neutrality by mid century but there’s a second one and that’s the closer one and this is much more urgent and this is the horizon of 2030. We have to act now. We need big structural changes yes to reach 2050 climate neutrality but we cannot wait for 2050 we have to cut emissions fast. And methane is one of the gases we can cut fastest. Doing that will immediately slow down climate change because we all know methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Roughly 30% of global warming since the industrial revolution is due to methane emissions. Methane is 80 times more global warming than co2. And today global methane emissions grow faster than at any time in the past. So cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
China and Russia, two of the world’s largest emitters of methane, did not join the U.S.’s pledge. Neither country sent its leader to COP26, despite contributing around thirty-two percent of all global emissions. They have been hesitant to cut emissions with the urgency of other large nations.