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Biden announces new initiatives to curb methane during the climate conference

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Convening a meeting of more than 20 of the world's largest economies to discuss steps to curb methane emissions, US President Joe Biden claimed that Russia's war in Ukraine shows the shift to renewable energy is a matter of national security as well as vital to preventing global warming.  

Biden made the remarks on Friday while speaking virtually with the other leaders from the White House at the US-hosted Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate where he argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine has "sharpened the need to achieve long-term reliable energy security and stability," and fueled a "global energy crisis."

"Russia's brutal and unprovoked assault on its neighbor Ukraine has fueled a global energy crisis and sharpened the need to achieve longterm reliable energy security and security," Biden said. "The good news is that climate security and energy security go hand in hand."

Biden said the US and European Union have launched the next step of their global methane pledge to reduce emissions of the planet-warming gas by 30 percent by 2030.

"Each year our existing energy system leaks enough methane to meet the needs for the entire European power sector. We flare enough gas to offset nearly all of the EU's gas imports from Russia. So by stopping the leaking and flaring of the super potent greenhouse gas and capturing this resource for countries that need it, we're addressing two problems at once," Biden said.

A senior Biden administration official said 23 countries were represented at the virtual conference, and "focused around the mitigation that they will be taking" on climate impacts.

Biden and the European Union announced a pledge to cut emissions of methane, a planet-warming gas at a previous session in September 2021.

Friday's video conference was the largest leader-level gathering before COP27, the follow-up summit, set to take place in Egypt this November.

Russia did not attend Friday's summit, and China was represented only at the level of its climate envoy, rather than President Xi Jinping, the White House said. And India also did not attend the event either.

The US president warned that the world must not let global climate change mitigation goals "slip out of our reach," and said that "the window for action is rapidly narrowing."

Biden vowed to make the United States a leader in the world's attempt to halt catastrophic global warming, despite the fact that he is facing public anger over soaring fuel prices linked to fallout from Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

Biden is trying to persuade the domestic oil industry to increase production and preparing for a visit to Saudi Arabia next month to plead Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to ramp up oil production. 

The group of oil-producing nations called OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia, recently agreed to increase oil production to help bring down prices.

The price for a gallon has doubled since Biden took office in January last year, but that same gallon costs $5 today, according to data from the non-profit American Automobile Association (AAA). The association said the average gallon of gas cost only $2.39 during the first week of Biden’s presidency.

Since the beginning of Russia's military operation in Ukraine and the ensuing spikes in oil prices, the US president has made great efforts to control fuel prices as well as isolate Russia.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his speech slammed the oil and gas industry, accusing it of mirroring tobacco companies' tactics to push a "false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change."

"Nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion. Even in the short term, fossil fuels don't make political or economic sense. Yet we seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat," he said.


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