World leaders at the U.N. climate summit pledged today to cut methane emissions and conserve forests. President Joe Biden wound up his two days at the Glasgow gathering focusing on America’s role in the new initiatives. William Brangham reports.
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World leaders at the U.N. climate summit pledged today to cut methane emissions and to conserve forests. President Biden wound up his two days at the Glasgow gathering focusing on America's role in the new initiatives.
William Brangham reports.
President Joe Biden:
It's one of the most potent greenhouse gases there is. It amounts to about half, half the warming we're experiencing today.
Hoping to solidify America's role as a leader in the fight against climate change, President Biden joined the European Union today to announce a proposed 30 percent reduction in methane emissions worldwide by 2030.
Methane, which can come from agricultural production, doesn't last in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but it traps far more heat than CO2. Controlling its release is considered one of the quickest ways to slow the pace of climate change.
The president also formally announced a plan to cut back on U.S. methane emissions by targeting the oil and gas industries, which are a major source. His proposal includes two new rules to be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation.
Another new global commitment made today was on deforestation. These forests, sometimes described as the lungs of the planet, serve as enormous reservoirs for carbon. Over 100 countries, including the U.S., China, and Russia, pledged to stop cutting them down by 2030.
Promises like this have been made before, but often not kept. This initiative covers about 85 percent of the world's forests, and would provide financial support for conservation and restoration, as well as aid for indigenous peoples who rely on them.
Meanwhile, amidst the pledges and promises from world leaders, legendary documentary filmmaker Sir David Attenborough hoped that the current impacts of a warming world would stir even greater action.
Sir David Attenborough, Naturalist:
Perhaps the fact that the people most affected by climate change are no longer some imagined future generation, but young people alive today, perhaps that will give us the impetus we need to rewrite our story.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.