UAE’s Methane Pledge a timely gesture - GulfToday

UAE’s Methane Pledge a timely gesture


John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, walks on stage at the Global Methane Pledge event during COP26. Reuters

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s bid to join the Global Methane Pledge at the COP26 summit in Glasgow building on its position as one of the least methane intense nations in the world is not only noteworthy but commendable too.

The UAE has long acted as a regional leader in methane reduction. Over five decades, the country has successfully reduced the volume of natural gas flared in the domestic energy sector by more than 90%. In turn, the UAE’s hydrocarbon industry today holds one of the world’s lowest methane intensities of 0.01%.

The UAE will build on this foundation of ultra-low methane intensity in the energy sector to further improve its methane performance. The UAE aims to achieve the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 “gold standard” by deploying advanced technology from drones to satellites, and to decarbonise natural gas to create low carbon blue hydrogen for industry.  In four decades of climate negotiations, the world has focused intensely and exclusively on the most abundant climate-warming gas: carbon dioxide. This year, scientists are urging a focus on another potent greenhouse gas – methane — as the planet’s best hope for staving off catastrophic global warming.

The UAE welcomes the opportunity to share its capabilities and experience in best-in-class methane performance with signatories to the EU-US led initiative that aims to cut global methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade.

While both methane and CO2 warm the atmosphere, the two greenhouse gases are not equal. A single CO2 molecule causes less warming than a methane molecule, but lingers for hundreds of years in the atmosphere whereas methane disappears within two decades.

Cutting methane is the single biggest and fastest strategy for slowing down warming, according to one report.

Today’s average global temperature is already 1.1C higher than the preindustrial average, thanks to emissions pumped into the air since the mid-1800s. But the world would have seen an additional 0.5C of warming, had skies not been filled with pollution reflecting some of the sun’s radiation back out into space.

As the world shifts away from fossil fuels and tackles air pollution, those aerosols will disappear – and temperatures could spike.

Quickly reducing methane could “counteract” this effect, while also improving air quality.

On a global scale, methane emissions are responsible for around 30% of warming since the pre-industrial era, according to the United Nations.

The Global Methane Pledge acknowledges that “readily available cost-effective methane emission measures have the potential to avoid over 0.2 degrees Celsius of warming by 2050 while yielding important co-benefits, including improving public health and agricultural productivity.”

The UAE has continued to lead firsts in methane, since the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, set up the first LNG production company in the Arabian Gulf, reduced flaring and achieved one of the lowest methane intensities, still leading today.

The UAE is also turning methane into opportunity with ambitions to convert waste to energy. Together, this makes the UAE a unique leader in methane stewardship.

Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, expressed appreciation to the US and EU for leading the call to the Global Methane Pledge that will mobilise tangible actions in endorsing countries.

She added: “The UAE is a keen supporter of the global efforts to address climate change. Recognising the urgent need for multilateral cooperation in this regard, we are proud to join the Global Methane Pledge and reaffirm our commitment to cutting down on methane emissions through domestic policy-making and developing innovative solutions.”

The nation’s methane mitigation strategy is part of a holistic approach to climate action. Recognising that agriculture contributes to global emissions, the nation has also partnered with the US and over 30 nations to launch the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, a global initiative aimed at accelerating investments in R&D for climate-smart agri-tech.

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