Australia will not support EU and US commitment on methane


MELBOURNE / WELLINGTON, October 28 (Reuters) – Australia will not back a commitment, led by the European Union and the United States, to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 amid concerns about the ‘impact on agricultural, coal and gas activities, the spokesperson for the Minister of Energy said on Thursday.

However, New Zealand, another major emitter of methane through its dairy and sheep industries, could sign the Global Methane Pledge.

“New Zealand is actively considering signing the pledge and will make a decision soon,” a spokesperson for Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

The US and the EU announced the methane pledge in September to rally rapid climate action ahead of the start of the UN climate talks in Glasgow, which begin on Sunday. Read more

Methane emissions – which come from natural gas, surface coal mines, cattle and sheep – are the second leading cause of climate change behind carbon dioxide (CO2). They trap more heat than CO2 emissions but decompose faster than CO2 in the atmosphere.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to back the methane pledge to gain support from the coalition government’s junior partner, the National Party, which represents rural Australians, including farmers and coal miners. Read more

National Party Leader Barnaby Joyce said excluding methane from Australia’s 2050 target was necessary as a 30% reduction in methane emissions would be a disaster for the beef, park industries fattening, dairy and coal mining.

“The only way to get your 30% reduction by 2030 in methane from 2020 levels would be to grab a gun and start shooting your cattle,” Joyce told reporters in Canberra.

Australian gas industry executives said in September that reducing methane emissions had long been a priority for the industry and said the methane leak rate for the Australian gas industry was around 0, 7% of production, against 1.2% for US gas production.

Australia’s decision was first reported in The Australian newspaper.

Reporting by Sonali Paul and Praveen Menon in Wellington; Editing by Sam Holmes and Stephen Coates

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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