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Biden announces global goal to reduce planet-warming methane emissions

President Joe Biden announced the United States and European Union have launched a global pledge to reduce emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by nearly 30% by the end of the decade.

Biden made the announcement Friday morning during the Major Economies Forum, a virtual, closed-door meeting with other world leaders on climate, ahead of a pivotal UN climate conference in Glasgow in November. The meeting is meant to raise climate ambition ahead of the Glasgow summit, a senior administration official recently told reporters. “This will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but it will also produce a very valuable side benefit like improving public health and agricultural output,” Biden said. “We’re mobilizing support to help developing countries that join and pledge to do something significant.”

Speaking on Friday, Biden called on world leaders to “bring to Glasgow our highest possible ambitions,” citing the US’s own goals aimed at curbing carbon emissions and his sweeping domestic economic agenda. Biden described the August report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a “code red for humanity,” reiterating his belief that the world is at an “inflection point” for climate action, something, he said, that “presents real, incredible economic opportunities.”

Biden was joined by representatives from a portion of the MEF countries, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Not all of the member countries were represented at the virtual event. With Earth rapidly warming, scientists say methane emissions need to be reduced fast. Charles Koven, a lead author of the UN climate change report published in August, told CNN this is due to methane’s incredible warming power. Even though carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere longer, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas, trapping 25 times as much heat.

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