The opening bell for the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly began on Tuesday with a Warning by Secretary General António Guterres: “I am here to sound the alarm: the world must wake up. We’re on the brink – and we’re headed in the wrong direction. He explained that “Climate alarm bells are also ringing at their peak. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a code red for humanity. We see the warning signs on every continent and region. “
And he is not wrong. In the USA, this summer was the hottest in 126 record years, tied with the Dust Bowl summer 1936. Nearly one in three Americans has experienced a weather disaster this summer. Climate change is accelerating and each additional increase in climate pollution is causing irreversible damage.
The american president Joe bidenJoe BidenHouse Endorses Bill to Provide Veterans with Cost of Living Adjustment regular, noting that “scientists and experts tell us that we are rapidly approaching a ‘point of no return’, literally.” Biden explained that climatologists tell us it’s not too late to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius target alive. But the window closes quickly. We have to get serious. And we have to act fast. The president also announced that he would more than quadruple the U.S. contribution to $ 11.4 billion per year by 2024 for the $ 100 billion per year in climate aid pledged to developing countries.
This new commitment builds on the president’s early start in April when he hosted his first meeting of the Forum of Major Economies on Energy and Climate on Earth Day with Heads of State. As he had promised at the time, the president continued last week by hosting his second Major Economies Forum, this time focusing on rapid mitigation by reducing methane, a climate super pollutant. This included the announcement that the US and EU developing global methane commitment to reduce methane by at least 30 percent by 2030, which can prevent twice as much warming by 2050 as the fastest decarbonization in the energy sector.
Ghana, Iraq, Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, UK, as well as the EU and US, have declared their intention to join the Global Methane Pledge. These early supporters of the pledge include six of the top 15 methane emitters in the world and together account for more than a fifth of global methane emissions and almost half of the global economy.
The diagram that emerges from Biden and his envoy for the climate John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium / Sustainability – Presented by American Petroleum Institute – Illegal pot farms dry up western streams Overnight Energy & Environment – Presented by Climate Power – Interior renders BLM headquarters in Washington Biden confirms global methane reduction target of 30%, urges the “highest possible ambitions” CONTINUED shows how they are changing climate policy by emphasizing the need to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius: by focusing on 2030 rather than the more distant 2050, by declaring that this decade must be the decade of rapid action to bend the warming curve and position the climate emergency at the level of the Head of State to which it belongs. At home, the president’s ambitious goal under the Paris Agreement is to reduce U.S. climate emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
An additional part of the architecture that Biden and Kerry are building is the strategic elevation of the importance of reducing short-lived climate pollutants, especially methane, which may provide the most important and fastest way to slow the warming over the next two decades, giving us the best and probably the only chance to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius target in sight. The Global Methane Pledge will be officially launched at COP26 in November in Glasgow, the 26th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Climate Treaty.
The Methane Commitment is important in itself as a powerful catalyst for immediate action to reduce methane. It is also an important step towards a global methane deal. Done well, the process in the future will produce more than just methane mitigation. It will also help revitalize the lackluster climate governance system by continuing to focus on heads of state, the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature safeguard, and taking swift action this decade through. 2030 by reducing short-lived climate pollutants to slow feedback and avoid tipping points.
We must move at lightning speed to develop our capacities to fight climate change and to rally all countries of the world to make immediate and drastic commitments for rapid climate action. Guterres argued forcefully that developed countries should share part of their allocation from the 650 billion dollars in special drawing rights (SDR) recently issued by the International Monetary Fund. These SDRs are essential to strengthen the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better. Securing part of the SDRs for rapid mitigation of methane and other short-lived climate pollutants would help ensure that rebuilding better helps address the climate emergency.
It’s the start of Climate Week and more positive news is surely on the way. In the meantime, we should all listen to Guterres’ message: “Don’t wait for others to take the first step. Do your part.
Durwood Zaelke is President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, DC and Paris, as well as an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is co-author of “Cut climate super-pollutants now! : urgent lessons from the Ozone Treaty to accelerate climate action“ (2021).