The European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Member States have just reached an agreement on the new EU Methane Regulation.
The provisional agreement reached today between the European Parliament and Council on a new EU Regulation should reduce energy sector methane emissions in Europe and in the EU’s global supply chains.
“Tackling methane emissions is a win-win policy. It is good for our planet and good for consumers.
I look forward to working with the European and international energy industry to ensure that these rules are quickly and effectively implemented,” –
Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for European Green deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas – the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2) – and is also a potent air pollutant.
The agreement is therefore considered crucial to delivering the European Green Deal and reducing the EU’s net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
It will oblige the fossil gas, oil and coal industry to properly measure, monitor, report and verify their methane emissions according to the highest monitoring standards, and take action to reduce them.
The agreement comes just a few weeks ahead of COP28, where the EU will continue its engagement with international partners on reducing methane emissions.
“The European Union is finally introducing binding measures to reduce the climate killer methane. Less methane emissions mean more climate protection and more energy sovereignty.
“With the new EU Methane Regulation, the EU is demonstrating its commitment to fulfil the Global Methane Pledge at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in December.
“At the heart of the new EU Methane Regulation are requirements for detecting and repairing methane leaks, with the help of which climate protection and energy sovereignty are to be achieved in equal measure. The global game changer is the extension to imports, for which a classification is being developed. In addition, as soon as reliable data is available and can be analysed, a threshold value will apply to imports of coal, oil and gas into the EU, – Jutta Paulus, European Parliament co-rapporteur.
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and is responsible for 24 per cent of global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees can only be achieved with rapid and effective methane reduction measures. In the energy sector, 75 per cent of methane emissions could be reduced without additional costs.
The EU Methane Regulation as agreed aims to stop the avoidable release of methane into the atmosphere and to minimise leaks of methane by fossil energy companies operating in the EU.
- It requires operators to report regularly to the competent authorities about quantification and measurements of methane emissions at source level, including for non-operated assets;
- It obliges oil and gas companies to carry out regular surveys of their equipment to detect and repair methane leaks on the EU territory within specific deadlines;
- It bans routine venting and flaring by the oil and gas sectors and restricts non-routine venting and flaring to unavoidable circumstances, for example for safety reasons or in case of equipment malfunction;
- It limits venting from thermal coal mines from 2027, with stricter conditions kicking in after 2031;
- It requires companies in the oil, gas and coal sectors to carry out an inventory of closed, inactive, plugged and abandoned assets, such as wells and mines, to monitor their emissions and to adopt a plan to mitigate these emissions as soon as possible.
The provisional agreement now requires formal adoption by both the European Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enter into force.
At the initiative of the European Union and others, more than 100 countries have committed to the Global Methane Pledge at the 2021 and 2022 UN climate conferences: The aim is to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.
The EU is leading international action to tackle methane emissions. Together with the US, the EU launched the Global Methane Pledge at the COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in 2021.
At COP27 last year, the EU, together with the United States, Japan, Canada, Norway, Singapore and the United Kingdom adopted a Joint Declaration from Energy Importers and Exporters on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fossil Fuels, committing to take rapid action in reducing methane emissions.
Read also: Jutta Paulus MEP: “corporate interests put before the health of millions of Europeans and nature”