Global Methane Pledge is Not Enough to Stop Climate Catastrophe

2 Nov 2021 Growing the Good

More Significant Cuts are Needed in the Energy, Waste, and Agricultural Sector to Achieve 1.5 degree Target

Glasgow, Scotland- Today at COP26, world leaders announced that over 100 countries have committed to a pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 (compared to 2020 baseline). While this is a step in the right direction, it is not enough: methane emissions must be cut by at least 45% by 2030 to have a fighting chance to stay below 1.5 degrees global warming, according to the United Nations Environment Program’s Global Methane Assessment that came out earlier this year.

Methane is 81 times more potent than carbon-dioxide (CO2) over a 20-year period, making it the second most important greenhouse gas, responsible for up to 40% of warming to date. The IPCC has said we have up to 2030 to ensure we do not exceed 1.5 degree temperature rise and pass dangerous tipping points. Now that countries have made commitments, they must be sure to deliver on them by enacting legally-binding policy. Private sector efforts are insufficient.

Significant cuts can and must be made across the three major methane emitting sectors to avert climate chaos:

Agricultural sector

Agriculture is the biggest source of methane emissions (40%) and 32% comes from livestock animals. Animal agriculture currently also accounts for over 80% of agricultural land use and is responsible for 16.5% of global GHG emissions, while also being one of the biggest drivers of deforestation. A report by the Changing Markets Foundation reveals that, in spite of its large contribution to global methane emissions, neither governments nor the industry are taking necessary action to cut methane emissions in the livestock sector. Policies that would drive a managed transition towards the reduction of meat and dairy consumption to the levels that are considered healthy would have major co-benefits for climate, biodiversity, and health, while also slashing methane emissions. Solutions can include reducing herd sizes, switching to regenerative agricultural practices, regulating the meat and dairy industries to ensure reduction and reporting of emissions, and adopting technical methane abatement measures, such as better manure management.

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets Foundation, states: “By ignoring most of the potential for methane reductions from livestock industries, governments are missing a key piece of the climate puzzle and the significant environment and health benefits that an adoption of healthier, plant-based diets could bring. Governments must reform agricultural subsidies and support measures to fix their broken food systems.”

Energy sector

The fossil fuel sector accounts for 35% of anthropogenic methane emissions, which occur across the entire fossil-gas supply chain. When methane leakage rates along the gas supply chain exceed 3%, the climate impact of fossil gas is worse than that of coal in power generation. The international community must transition to clean energy by 2035, putting a moratorium on any new fossil fuel infrastructure, and banning any exploration and production of fracked gas and coal. To effectively address methane emissions from the energy sector at the global level, a new global methane instrument needs to be put in place.

The Environmental Investigation Agency has set out such a framework for a collective international action, based on 4 main pillars. First, it must set a clear monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) framework, with national reporting obligations, assisted by satellite surveillance provided by the International Methane Emissions Observatory. The second is methane mitigation, through leak detection and repair (LDAR), bans on routine venting and flaring (BRVF), and measures to cap and seal unused and abandoned oil and gas wells and coal mines on the whole supply chain. The petrochemical sector also contributes to methane emissions, through the use of gas as feedstock. For this reason, any framework should also include the petrochemical sector. The third is financial and technical assistance made available to policymakers and developing countries. Finally, existing bodies and initiatives must be coordinated to ensure coherence and avoid redundancies.

Kim O’Dowd, Climate Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) states: “The Global Methane pledge is a start, but strong and bold diplomatic efforts are needed to develop a dedicated global governance framework which will promote international cooperation and coordination to mitigate methane emissions, made possible through available technologies and at low cost, and transition away from fossil fuels. Signatories of the Global Methane Pledge must build upon this momentum to develop a new instrument for the energy sector, one that takes a comprehensive approach toward addressing methane emissions.”

Waste sector

Landfills are the second largest single source of anthropogenic methane emissions. Food loss and waste are responsible for 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, proven, costeffective strategies already exist that would tackle these emissions while simultaneously addressing the planet’s rising waste management problems. We need a rapid transition to zerowaste economies, including measures to reduce food waste, and separately collect and compost organics in line with the waste hierarchy. As with fossil fuel legacy infrastructure, it is also important to adopt methane mitigation measures at landfills to prevent methane leakage.

Dr. Neil Tangri, Science and Policy Director at GAIA, states: “No one should be throwing away organic waste. Composting our food and yard waste is a simple, cheap, and effective measure that will dramatically reduce methane emissions. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective, and composting is one that every city, town, household, and business can do. It’s time to stop treating resources like trash.”


Further resources and a COP26 events calendar can be found at

Press contacts

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) | +1 (856) 895-1505

Paul Newman, EIA Senior Press & Communications Officer | +44 (0) 7712 269438

Nusa Urbancic, Changing Markets Campaigns Director | +44 (0)7479015909

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.

Changing Markets Foundation was formed to accelerate and scale up solutions to sustainability challenges by leveraging the power of markets. Working in partnership with NGOs, other foundations and research organisations, we are working on effective solutions to our ongoing environmental crisis.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.

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