World leaders have pledged to cut methane emission levels by 30% by 2030 as part of efforts to tackle the climate crisis at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
The Global Methane Pledge is an international initiative put forward by the US and EU to reduce methane emissions, an effective way to slow warming in the short term.
John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, said more than 100 countries have joined the effort to meet the targets of the pledge.
John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, speaks at the Global Methane Pledge event
He spoke before US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appeared together in Glasgow to announce details of the wide-ranging plan.
The Biden administration plans to tackle oil and gas wells, pipelines and other infrastructure first as part of its broader strategy to crack down on climate change.
Its goal is to eliminate over 0.2C of near-term warming by cutting global methane by at least 30% by 2030.
While it sounds like a small change, it could have a significant impact on the severity and frequency of extreme weather events.
It will also substantially improve public health and agricultural productivity by reducing the ground-level ozone pollution that methane exacerbates.
Addressing the summit, Mr Biden thanked those who have signed the “game-changing commitment”.
He said: “What we do in this decisive decade… is going to impact whether or not we can meet our longer-term commitment.
“One of the most important things we can do in this decisive decade to keep 1.5C in reach is to reduce our methane as quickly as possible.
“As has already been stated, it is one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is. It amounts to about half the warming we are experiencing today.”
US President Joe Biden speaks at the Global Methane Pledge event during COP26
Other highlights so far from the summit include:
o The summit’s first major announcement came in the form of more than 100 countries representing 85% of the world’s forests agreeing to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 – with GBP14bn ($19.2bn) in public and private funding behind it
o Scores of world leaders signed a pledge to slash potent climate heating gas methane by 30% by 2030, a “low hanging fruit” when it comes to slowing warming in the short-term. It could shave 0.1-0.2 degrees off global warming
o Japan committed extra $10bn climate finance over five years, meaning rich countries could hit $100bn a year target one year sooner than expected, US climate envoy John Kerry said, as it “has the ability to leverage” a further $8bn
o Over 40 world leaders back plan to fund clean technology around the world by 2030, the UK government announced
o India finally came forward with a net zero promise – the 2070 target is 20 years later than the key 2050 date but still a big step forward, especially with its commitment to significantly slash emissions by 2030
o Boris Johnson warned the 1.5 degrees target is the difference ‘between life and death’
o Five countries, including Britain and the United States, and a group of global charities promised $1.7bn to support indigenous people’s conservation of forests and strengthen their land rights
Mr Biden added the pledge will make a “huge difference” not just when fighting climate change, but with the physical health of individuals.
During his two-day appearance at the summit in Glasgow, Mr Biden has vowed to work with the EU and other nations to achieve the goal.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, told the summit: “We all want to build a cleaner and healthier future for our kids. That means taking real climate action.”
He also told COP26 there’s no achievable global pathway to reach the 1.5C target “without deep cuts to methane over the next decade”.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, explained that cutting back on methane emissions is “one of the most effective things we can do” to slow down climate change.
‘Let’s keep 1.5 alive’
The pledge is arguably the biggest single thing countries can do to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Methane is usually produced as a by-product of the oil and gas industry, but if captured, it can be used as fuel for power plants and domestic purposes.
Invisible and odourless, it is considered to be a major contributor to global warming and is much more harmful than carbon dioxide.
Experts believe lowering methane levels can not only stop the planet from getting hotter, but can actively lower global temperatures.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio participates in the Global Methane Pledge event
Climate crisis in focus
o Madagascar on the brink of famine caused by climate change, with children most at risk
o Sewage and pollution are choking Brazil’s Amazonian waterways
o Welcome to ‘trash island’ – the Maldives’ festering home of rubbish now crucial to its climate fight
Commenting on the updated pledge announced today at COP26, Professor Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero at the University of Cambridge, said: “Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and rapid cuts would make an important difference.
“It has contributed about 0.5C to warming to date and although it doesn’t stay as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after its release it is 80 times more powerful at heating.
“Methane is an easy win in terms of climate action: cuts using existing technologies and adopting different land management practices could reduce warming by 0.25C by 2050 at little or no cost, and help to keep 1.5 alive.”
For full coverage of COP26, watch Climate Live on Sky channel 525.
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Get all the latest stories, special reports and in-depth analysis at skynews.com/cop26
Original Article: news.sky.com
WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.
WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.
Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.
The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.
Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.
Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.
Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.
There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.
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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.
“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”
Original Source: news.sky.com
Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons
The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.
Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.
He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.
The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.
He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.
Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.
He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.
His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.
During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.
Original Article: news.sky.com
Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed
A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.
The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.
The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.
Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.
All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.
At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.
This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.
Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.
The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.
An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province
There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.
Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.
Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.
China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.
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