At COP28 meeting, oil companies pledge to combat methane. Environmentalists call it a "smokescreen"

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Fifty oil companies representing nearly half of global production have pledged to reach near-zero methane emissions and end routine flaring in their operations by 2030, the president of this year's United Nations said Saturday, a move that environmental groups called a “smokescreen."

Methane emissions are a significant contributor to global warming, so sharply reducing them could help slow temperature rise. If the companies carry out their pledges, it could trim one-tenth of a degree Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit) from future warming, a prominent climate scientist calculated and told The Associated Press. That is about how much the Earth is currently warming every five years.

The announcement by Sultan al-Jaber, president of the climate summit known as COP28 and , comes as he and others have insisted his background would allow him to bring oil companies to the negotiating table. Al-Jaber has maintained that having the industry's buy-in is crucial to drastically slashing the world’s greenhouse emissions by nearly half in seven years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial times.