(Recasts with quotes from Biden)
By Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper
WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden urged world leaders on Friday to join the United States and the European Union in a pledge to cut methane emissions to help build momentum ahead of an international summit on climate change later this year.
Biden held a virtual meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) in a follow-up to an Earth Day meeting he hosted in April https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-climate-summit-idCAKBN2CA0DK to unveil new U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and press other countries to do more to curb theirs.
Tackling climate change is one of Biden's top domestic and international priorities, and the U.N. COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 is seen as a critical moment for the world to commit to doing more to halt rising temperatures.
On Friday the president called on other nations to join an agreement between the United States and the EU to aim to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.
"This will not only rapidly reduce the rate of global warming, but ... it will also produce a very valuable side benefit like improving public health and agricultural output," Biden told the leaders.
"We believe the collective goal is both ambitious but realistic, and we urge you to join us in announcing this pledge at COP26," Biden said.
Leaders from Argentina, Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Britain, and the European Union took part, along with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, according to the White House.
That is a smaller number of attendees than the April summit, which included remarks from China's President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top world leaders.
Biden said he wanted to use the MEF to complement other climate change forums and his team, including climate envoy John Kerry, is working to push countries to set ambitious targets for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"Whatever commitments we make at COP26, we must all resolve together in Glasgow to continue strengthening our ambition and our actions ... to keep us ... below 1.5 degrees and keep that within reach," Biden said.
Biden announced in April a new target to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Biden has been emphasizing climate change repeatedly in recent weeks in the wake of damage from devastating floods and wildfires across the United States. (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Alexandra Alper; editing by Richard Pullin and Philippa Fletcher)
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