On the eve of the opening of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, US President Biden convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF). The virtual event took place on 17 September 2021, and brought together Heads of State or Government from 10 countries along with other high-level officials.
President Biden was joined by leaders from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. The heads of the European Commission and European Council also participated, as did the UN Secretary-General. US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry chaired a ministerial session with China, Germany, India, and Russia.
Among other shared challenges, participants discussed the need to raise climate ambition ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow. In this regard, domestic implementing measures were discussed and some noted their intention to increase their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) ambition by COP 26.
Many participants also announced support for a Global Methane Pledge to be launched at COP 26. Methane is a powerful, short-lived climate pollutant that accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees C of net warming to date. The Global Methane Pledge was co-initiated by the US and the European Union and will involve a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030 and implementation of related domestic actions. MEF members including the European Union, Argentina, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US indicated their intention to join the Pledge.
In his statement to the MEF, the Secretary-General noted the just-released synthesis report on Nationally Determined Contributions indicates we need a 45% cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century, while a just-released report by the OECD on climate finance reveals a gap of at least USD 20 billion in meeting the pledge to mobilize USD 100 billion dollars per year to support climate action in developing countries.
Plans to leverage the MEF post-Glasgow as a launchpad for collective efforts to scale up climate action were also discussed. Biden discussed US plans to use the MEF at the leader and ministerial levels to facilitate targeted endeavors similar to the Global Methane Pledge. The Chair’s Summary of the meeting indicates that “Such action will include multiple tracks focused on key spheres, including energy, industry, land, and the ocean.” First up, MEF ministers will be invited in January 2022 to discuss clean energy goals in the power, transport, industry and buildings sectors.
The meeting was billed as a follow up from the Leaders Summit on Climate that Biden convened in April. [Chair’s Summary] [Joint US-EU statement on Global Methane Pledge][Secretary-General’s remarks to MEF]