Biden announces sharp cuts to methane emissions as Congress delays his climate agenda

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday plans to crack down on emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide that contributes significantly to global warming.

The announcement came on the president’s last day at the United Nations climate summit in Scotland as world leaders unveiled an international agreement to sharply curtail methane emissions. Brokered by the United States and Europe, the agreement would require countries to cut emissions by a least one-third below 2020 levels by the end of this decade. So far, almost 100 countries have signed the pledge.

The proposed rule could have a major effect on California. Oil production in the state has been declining since the 1980s. Fossil fuel companies, some of which have gone out of business, have left about 35,000 oil and gas wells sitting idle. Many of those wells are unplugged, increasing the risk that they could leak methane gas or cancer-causing chemicals.

In a brief speech on Tuesday, Biden called on countries to “go beyond” the agreed-to reductions and urged more to sign on. “There are more that can join — and should,” he said.

Though they are among the world’s top methane emitting countries, China, Russia and India have not joined the pledge. Neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor Russian President Vladimir Putin are attending the conference in person. Both sent envoys.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, also announced Tuesday that European countries would propose new rules to reduce methane emissions, including requirements that oil and gas companies measure and report their emissions and repair methane leaks.

“We cannot wait until 2050; we have to cut emissions fast.

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