Fact Sheet: President Biden Tackles Methane Emissions, Spurs Innovations, and Supports Sustainable Agriculture
Today, President Biden is announcing bold actions consistent with his vision that tackling the climate crisis is not just an imperative, but one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time. When he thinks of climate, he thinks of jobs – and he knows that decisive actions will deliver for economies and jobs back home.
The United States is leading the clean energy economy of the future with initiatives across a range of sectors and all stages of innovation: research, development, and deployment. The Department of Energy reports that while most energy sectors lost jobs in 2020, the sectors that continued growing amid the pandemic were wind generation, battery storage, and hybrid and electric vehicles. Globally, the International Energy Agency estimates that moving to a net-zero economy would create 30 million jobs worldwide by 2030 across energy, construction, and automotive sectors, 65% of which will be high-skilled jobs. The United States is committed to realizing not only the emissions reductions potential, but also the economic growth and jobs creation opportunities across key sectors.
Through tackling methane emissions, spurring innovations, and supporting sustainable agriculture, President Biden today is announcing bold steps that will push the U.S. clean energy economy forward and create good-paying jobs. President Biden is unveiling a U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan that redoubles efforts from across the government to dramatically reduce U.S. methane emissions, cut consumer costs, protect workers and communities, maintain and create high-quality, union-friendly jobs, and promote U.S. innovation and manufacturing of critical new technologies.
The President is also announcing how the U.S. is partnering with countries around the world to drive innovation and deep decarbonization, including through Net-Zero World to chart pathways to deep decarbonization; the Clean Energy Demand Initiative that will facilitate greater corporate procurement of renewable energy; and the First Movers Coalition that will drive innovation by sending a demand signal for the new technologies we need in industry, aviation, and heavy-duty transportation.
The President is pursuing efforts with partners around the world to mobilize public and private finance for climate-smart economic growth and development, including by bringing a climate lens to infrastructure development through Build Back Better World (B3W), creating jobs in clean industries in the U.S. and other countries including a new partnership with South Africa, and strengthening the pipeline of bankable projects and facilitating private investment in climate-smart development through USTDA and USAID programming.
The President also recognizes the critical role of natural ecosystems in solving the climate crisis, launching major initiatives including AIM for Climate to spur agricultural innovation, the Plan to Conserve Global Forests which will catalyze global efforts to conserve and restore forests and other critical ecosystems.
More on today’s announcements:
Reducing Methane Emissions: Methane emissions are a major contributor to climate change, which is why President Biden is taking critical, commonsense steps at home to reduce methane across the economy – all while rallying the rest of the world to take similar bold actions.
This is why President Biden in September announced that the United States was joining with the European Union in challenging the world to meet a Global Methane Pledge and reduce the world’s methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. The official launch event the second day of COP-26 will announce that more than 100 governments have now joined the pledge, including six of the world’s top 10 methane emitters: the United States, Brazil, EU, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Argentina.
The new U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan is an ambitious, whole-of-government initiative that uses all available tools – commonsense regulations, catalytic financial incentives, transparency and disclosure of actionable data, and public and private partnerships – to identify and cost-effectively reduce methane emissions from all major sources. These actions will protect public health, promote U.S. innovation in new technologies, and help employee tens of thousands of skilled workers across the country. The plan aims to reduce:
- Oil & Gas Industry Methane Emissions: The oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions in the United States, responsible for approximately 30% of total methane emissions. That is why on January 20, 2021, the first day of his Administration, President Biden issued Executive Order 13990, directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue regulations under the Clean Air Act to reduce the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions.
The EPA is today proposing new regulations that will significantly broaden and strengthen methane emissions reduction for new oil and gas facilities. In addition, for the first time ever, it will require that states develop plans that will reduce methane emissions from existing sources nationwide—including from an estimated 300,000 oil and gas well sites. Overall, the proposed requirements would reduce emissions from covered sources, equipment, and operations by approximately 75%.
The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration (PHMSA) is implementing the bipartisan PIPES Act by upgrading and expanding pipeline rules that will, among other things, require operators to cut methane leaks and excursions. And the Department of the Interior (DOI) is focusing on opportunities to tackle the venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas operations and well closures on public lands and waters.
- Landfill Methane Emissions: Landfills are the second largest industrial source of methane in the United States. Building on efforts earlier this year to put in place an enforceable federal backstop plan to ensure emissions reductions from large municipal landfills, EPA is ramping up an initiative to reduce the food loss and waste that serves as a major contributor to landfill methane emissions. EPA is also boosting its voluntary landfill methane outreach program to achieve a national goal of 70 percent methane emissions capture for all landfills around the country.
- Emissions by Plugging Oil & Gas Wells and Remediating Abandoned Mines: Under the President’s Build Back Better plan, DOI will launch an aggressive program to plug hundreds of thousands of orphan oil and gas wells, including many that are still venting methane, employing union workers across the country. Build Back Better would scale up the current Abandoned Mine Land program, funding historic remediation efforts that would result in dramatic methane emissions reductions from thousands of currently leaking, abandoned coal mines. This scaled up program would also enlist tens of thousands of skilled workers, especially in energy communities across the country.
- Agricultural Methane Emissions: In his early Executive Order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” the President called on the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with farmers and ranchers to identify voluntary, incentive-based approaches that will advance climate goals. In response, USDA is pursuing multiple workstreams to reduce methane emissions from the agricultural sector, including (1) the adoption of alternative manure management systems and other methane-reducing practices; (2) the expansion of on-farm generation and use of renewable energy; (3) the development of a climate-smart agricultural commodities partnership initiative and (4) increased investments in agricultural methane quantification and related innovations.
Energy, Industry, Transportation, and Other Need-to-Abate Sectors: President Biden recognizes that accelerating clean energy adoption around the world is central to the global net-zero transition. Energy represents the majority of global emissions, and clean energy technologies that are already cost-competitive are critical for reducing emissions across the power, transportation, industry, and buildings sectors. The United States is committed to partnering with governments and business leaders around the world to drive the clean energy transition that will strengthen our economies, which is why the United States will be hosting the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation next year. President Biden has launched several initiatives demonstrating his commitment to partnering with entrepreneurs and innovators to catalyze the development and deployment of the new technologies that will power the clean economy of the future. The United States is partnering with emerging economies to develop deep decarbonization strategies, mobilizing private companies to drive deployment in need-to-abate industrial sectors, strengthening adoption of renewable and nuclear energy including small modular reactors, and launching the next Energy Earthshot to accelerate innovation in carbon dioxide removal technologies.
- The First Movers Coalition (FMC), led by the State Department through the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and the World Economic Forum, is a platform for building private-sector demand to speed clean energy technology innovation and confront the climate crisis. Through this flagship public-private partnership, companies make purchasing commitments during this decade to send a clear demand signal for commercializing emerging technologies essential to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The FMC launches at COP-26 with more than 25 Founding Members that have each made demand commitments, including some of the largest companies in the world across a wide range of industries with hundreds of billions of dollars in purchasing power. The buyers’ clubs assembled by the FMC will create early market demand for innovations across eight “need-to-abate” sectors—steel, trucking, shipping, aviation, aluminum, concrete, chemicals, and direct air capture—which represent more than one-third of the world’s carbon emissions today, a proportion set to grow in the coming decades.
- Net-Zero World:In line with the objectives of the President’s Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, the Department of Energy is leading an initiative in partnership with the Department of State, USAID, USTDA, DFC and others, to accelerate global energy system decarbonization by leveraging the Department of Energy’s 17 National Laboratories and deploying the diplomatic, technical and financial expertise from across U.S. government agencies. Together with the philanthropic community, the United States will work hand-in-hand with partner countries to provide world-class technical assistance to inform each country’s energy decarbonization strategy to net zero and collaborate to implement solutions. Through this whole-of-government, holistic approach, the United States will help partner countries unlock private-sector financing and deliver on low-carbon development pathways through U.S. technical expertise on implementation pathways and market reforms. The first Net Zero World partner countries announced at COP 26 are Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
- The Clean Energy Demand Initiative (CEDI) leverages private sector commitments to deploy clean energy technologies by creating a platform for companies to send investment signals to key markets. Through CEDI, over 30 companies have signed letters of intent to procure renewable energy to offset electricity demand for a multitude of sectors, including technology, manufacturing, retail, and health. And, over 45 more companies have expressed interest in joining. Countries in turn will signal support for high level principles to create an enabling environment for corporate renewable procurement. The renewable energy demand from over 75 interested companies has the potential to unlock up to $67 billion in power infrastructure, as a complement to broader sectoral investment. CEDI will serve as a platform for stakeholder engagement and country partnerships and create a venue for companies and countries to continually signal investment potential and policy plans. CEDI builds on commitments made by over 325 companies, through RE100, to move to 100% renewable energy by 2050 or earlier.
- President Biden is announcing the next Energy Earthshot to accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy and climate solutions within the decade. Following the Energy Earthshots announced this year on Clean Hydrogen and Long-Duration Energy Storage, the newest challenge will target Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). Carbon Negative Shot is DOE’s all-hands-on-deck call to mobilize public and private research to develop durable and scalable CDR approaches at greatly reduced costs relative to today. DOE will develop rigorous standards in consultation with researchers and experts around the world to ensure that the full suite of CDR approaches that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will deliver results that take carbon out of the atmosphere for the long term. Carbon Negative Shot will accelerate the development of CDR as an additional and necessary tool that can be responsibly deployed in a just and sustainable way alongside technologies for aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation.
The United States and Romania will announce today plans to build a “first-of-a-kind” small modular reactor (SMR) plant in Romania in partnership with U.S. NuScale Power, bringing the latest civil nuclear technology to a critical part of Europe. The partnership will bring SMR technology to Romania, positioning U.S. technology to lead in the global race for SMR deployment. The commercial agreement will include a six-module NuScale plant, initially creating over 3,700 U.S. and Romanian jobs, including possible union jobs, with the potential to create 30,000 U.S. and Romanian jobs as the project grows. Deployment of SMR technology will be an important contributor to a decarbonized power sector and net zero future.
Driving a Global Clean Economy: President Biden is committed to driving development of a clean global economy and establishing new coalitions and partnerships to do so. Building on the G7’s June 2021 launch of Build Back Better World – a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership to catalyze infrastructure investment and economic growth–the Biden Administration is pursuing efforts across the whole of government and with partners around the world to mobilize public and private finance for climate-smart economic growth and development.
- Today, President Biden and European Commission President von der Leyen hosted a discussion with leaders from around the world, as well as UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark Carney and World Bank Group President David Malpass, and leaders from around the world on how infrastructure partnerships like Build Back Better World will simultaneously advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis. In conversation with leaders from countries with significant infrastructure needs, participants discussed how Build Back Better World and like-minded infrastructure initiatives will be an integral part of our fight against climate change, galvanize much-needed attention, focus, and resources to help narrow the infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries, and build infrastructure systems that last instead of infrastructure projects that lapse.
- The United States, UK, EU, France and Germany will announce a partnership with South Africa to chart a course from coal to clean through the creation of new jobs and opportunities for South African coal communities. This partnership will seek to prevent up to 1-1.5 gigatons of emissions over the next 20 years in support of South Africa’s accelerated transition to a low emission, climate resilient economy, and aims to mobilize $8.5 billion for the first phase of financing, through various mechanisms including grants, concessional loans, investments, risk sharing and other instruments for private sector mobilization.
- The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is creating opportunities for U.S. companies abroad as countries seek to transition to a net-zero economy by tackling one of the major challenges in attracting finance for climate-smart infrastructure: the need for a strong project pipeline for clean development projects. USTDA, through its Global Partnership for Climate-Smart Infrastructure, has set a goal of $60 million in programming through 2023 to tackle the climate crisis while supporting good-paying U.S. jobs. In the past year alone, USTDA’s programming has been designed to introduce over $5 billion in clean technologies into emerging markets globally through feasibility studies and pilot projects that help U.S. businesses gain a foothold in markets abroad, and help host countries prove the concept for clean projects that can attract full-scale investment to grow cleaner economies and address the infrastructure gap in emerging economies.
- USAID is catalyzing private financial flows for clean development through a range of programs to connect investors with opportunities in developing countries, partner with countries to support the deployment of clean energy infrastructure, reduce pollution and build resilience. Two new and expanded projects USAID is announcing today include a goal to invest up to $250 million to mobilize $2.5 billion in private finance through its new Green Recovery Investment Platform to support clean economic growth globally. USAID is also expanding the U.S.-Europe Energy Bridge with plans to invest $100m over 10 years, subject to Congressional appropriations, addressing barriers to clean private investment by supporting regulatory reforms to create open and transparent energy markets.
Supporting Agriculture and Critical Ecosystems: Building a clean economy includes working to shift global economic incentives to recognize the value of forests, oceans, and other critical ecosystems. President Biden also recognizes that solving the climate crisis means building a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector that feeds the world with lower emissions. The President is launching and expanding marque initiatives to bring innovative solutions to agriculture and forest issues. In particular, the President’s Build Back Better Framework will provide major financial support to farmers and ranchers who adopt “climate smart agriculture and forestry” practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester additional carbon stocks in soils and vegetation.
- Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks This is a first of its kind, whole-of-government Plan that launches a decade-long effort to conserve forests and other terrestrial and coastal ecosystems that serve as critical carbon sinks. The Plan supports collective goals the United States has previously endorsed, including to strive to end natural forest loss by 2030; to significantly increase the rate of global restoration of degraded landscapes and forestlands; and to slow, halt, and reverse forest cover and carbon loss. The Plan outlines four key objectives: 1) Incentivize forest and ecosystem conservation and forest landscape restoration; 2) Catalyze private sector investment, finance and action to conserve critical carbon sinks; 3) Build long-term capacity, and support the data and systems that enhance accountability; 4) Increase ambition for climate and conservation action. It notes an intent to dedicate up to $9 billion of our international climate funding to support these objectives by 2030, subject to Congressional appropriations.
- The United States and the United Arab Emirates launched the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) alongside more than 30 countries and more than 45 non-government partners. The initiative’s goal is to increase and accelerate agricultural and food systems innovation in support of climate action. To achieve this goal, AIM for Climate partners will work to catalyze greater public and private sector investment in, and other support for, climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation to help to raise global ambition and underpin more rapid and transformative climate action in all countries. AIM for Climate has already garnered an “early harvest” of $4 billion in increased investment in climate smart agriculture and food systems innovation, with the United States planning to mobilize $1 billion over 5 years.
- Today, the United States is also announcing that it will be joining the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. This multi-national initiative is harnessing the power of the ocean to tackle the climate crisis, provide jobs and food security, and accelerate sustainable uses of the ocean. As a member of the Ocean Panel, the U.S. will develop a national plan to sustainably manage our ocean area under national jurisdiction. COP26 is a timely moment to join this initiative. The ocean sustains all life on this planet, yet its health is under threat from greenhouse gas emissions and other stressors. At the same time, the ocean is a source of climate solutions, from reducing shipping emissions, to scaling up offshore renewable energy, to protecting coastal ecosystems that store carbon and improve climate resilience. This is one step in continued efforts to engage on protecting the ocean, including partnering with Palau on the Our Ocean Conference in 2022.