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COP26: world leaders pledge to reduce methane emissions

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The leaders of over 100 countries have pledged to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 at the COP26 summit.

The Global Methane Pledge, announced on Tuesday by US President Joe Biden and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, aims to eliminate over 0.2°C of global warming by tackling one of the most potent greenhouse gases (GHGs), second only to CO2 in terms of atmospheric content, but 28-34 times as warming.

Commenting on the pledge, Ursula von der Leyen said:

“Today, global methane emissions grow faster than at any time in the past. Cutting back on these emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep 1.5C. It is the lowest hanging fruit.”

As agriculture contributes to roughly half of the UK’s methane emissions, the sector and its efforts to reduce said emissions will obviously attract a considerable amount of attention in the coming 9 years. While many farmers are already implementing emission reduction measures on their land, as part of the farming sector’s net-zero ambitions, many believe government needs to do more to assist. 

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said:

“Many of our members have already put in place measures to reduce livestock methane emissions; for example, trialing feed supplements or improving their productivity.

“It is interesting to hear at COP26 how other countries, including the United States, will be providing incentives to reward farmers for reducing emissions. We believe this approach should be included in future domestic policy, as well as supporting innovation within the sector, and we look forward to the UK government’s proposals on how it will work with farmers to achieve this goal.”

The energy sector, or more specifically the extraction and use of fossil fuels, is also responsible for a considerable amount of the world’s atmospheric methane, placing an even greater emphasis on switching to a clean energy society as soon as possible. 

There are a variety of ways in which farmers can reduce GHG emissions, including methane, such as improving soil health and sequestering carbon, optimising fertiliser application, implementing effective slurry management systems, and investing in renewables such as an anaerobic digestion plant – capturing and recycling organic wastes that would otherwise produce harmful emissions. The Low Carbon Agriculture Show, founded by Energy Now, is the only UK event exclusively focused on increased sustainability and the reduction of GHG emissions in the agricultural sector, providing farmers and land managers with insight and guidance on areas such as environmental land management, renewable energy generation and regenerative farming. More information on the event can be found at

Other news from COP26 includes:

  • An agreement to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, with £14bn in public and private funding.
  • A promise from India to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, together with a commitment to significantly cut emissions by 2030.
  • A commitment from Japan to provide $10bn of climate finance over 5 years

For more information on COP26 and the announcements please visit the event’s website.


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