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Disappointment as Council backtracks on European methane ambition

December 19, 2022 Work Area: Methane

BRUSSELS — Today, the Council of the European Union came to an agreement on the Methane Regulation, the first EU-wide attempt at combating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.  

The Council agreement represents a significant watering down of the ambition originally set out by the Commission last year after it helped to spearhead the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 in Glasgow.  

“Member states have repeatedly weakened the methane proposal to the point that, in its current version, it would do very little to cut methane emissions” said Jonathan Banks, Global Director, Methane Pollution Prevention at Clean Air Task Force. “While other countries are moving forward with ambitious measures, the Council is going the other way, relinquishing the EU’s international leadership on methane. It’s up to Parliament to raise the ambition now or Europe will be looking at methane action that is 10 years out of date.” 

For an overview of what should have been included, see this open letter that CATF submitted to energy ministers last week alongside 9 other NGOs. 

A year ago, the European Commission put out its first ever EU-wide proposal to deal with methane emissions. It was a part of a breakthrough moment for methane campaigners, a few weeks after methane had made it to the mainstage at COP26 in Glasgow and more than 100 world leaders committed to the Global Methane Pledge that set a collaborative international target for methane, the long overlooked ‘other’ greenhouse gas. 

12 months on, that moment has turned into momentum. At COP27 in Egypt, we saw a plethora of announcements. Over 150 countries now support the pledge and 95% of nationally determined contributions include methane in their greenhouse gas target or will by their next revision. More than 50 countries have National Methane Action Plans or are working to develop one. Canada, Nigeria, and the United States announced far-reaching regulations or regulatory pathways that include ambitious new plans like monthly leak detection and repair inspections at all oil and gas facilities, replacing vent-by-design equipment within a few years, and a fee on methane emissions. 

A new bar has been set for methane action. Even the Commission’s proposed Methane Regulation does not look quite as impressive as it once did – the version that the Council has now agreed to is even further behind. 

Methane is a harmful super pollutant that warms the planet more than 80 times more than carbon dioxide over its first 20 years in the atmosphere. It’s responsible for about half a degree Celsius of global warming so far, and its levels are rising fast. Due to its short-lived nature, reducing methane emissions is one of the best strategies available to slow global warming in the near term. Learn more about CATF’s work to reduce methane emissions. 

Press Contact

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, Europe, [email protected]
+32 476 97 36 42 

About Clean Air Task Force  

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit and follow @cleanaircatf. 

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