US president Joe Biden will try to underscore his green credentials by unveiling an action plan to control methane, regarded by the administration as the single most potent way to combat the climate crisis in the short term.
Leading an alliance of 90 countries, including for the first time Brazil, he will on Tuesday set out new regulatory measures to limit global methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by the end of the decade.
The alliance includes two-thirds of the global economy and half of the top 30 major methane emitter countries. China, India and Russia have not joined the pact known as the Global Methane Pledge.
The pledge was first announced in September but Biden’s officials have been working hard to increase the number of signatories and the momentum behind the pledge. The detailed US proposals may prove to be one of the lasting successes of Cop26 in Glasgow where Biden will announce his action plan.
Many of the regulatory measures do not require Congressional approval, and so give Biden some short-term effective measures to which he can point.
Biden will focus on new plans to limit methane emissions by the oil and gas industry in the US, reckoned to be responsible for 30% of the methane emissions in the US.
A new Environment Protection Agency rule that regulates leak detection and repair in the oil industry repealed by Donald Trump will be restored and for the first time applied to new operations in gas, including regulation of natural gas produced as a by-product of oil production that is vented or flared.
The Biden team hopes that 75% of all methane emissions will be covered.
The other major sources of methane in the US are municipal landfills, thousands of abandoned oil wells and coal mines, and finally agriculture.
New rules, due to be phased in, will require companies to oversee and inspect 3m miles (4.8m km) of pipelines, including 300,000 miles (480,000km) of transmission lines and 2.3m miles (3.7m km) of lines inside cities. In Boston alone it is estimated that 49,000 tonnes of methane leak each year.
The administration says it is working in concert with the EU and is using a mix of incentives, new disclosure rules and regulation. It stressed that the plan will create thousands of unionised jobs.