Stage set for Europe to take methane mitigation measures global
BRUSSELS – Today, the European Parliament officially adopted its position on the EU Methane Regulation ahead of trilogues, one of the last remaining flagship climate bills of the Von der Leyen Commission and a crucial mechanism for European greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“Today’s action by the European Parliament to dramatically cut methane pollution sends a strong signal on the direction Europe must go, especially as we move to the next stage of the process,” said Jonathan Banks, Global Director, Methane Pollution Prevention at CATF. “To regain Europe’s leadership on climate and to drive change globally, it will be imperative that Parliament’s position is adopted in trilogues.”
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and reducing its emissions is crucial for meeting the EU’s climate goals. With the war in Ukraine and Europe’s need to diversify oil and gas supply, methane has also emerged as a major energy security consideration. As the RePowerEU announcement showcased, reducing methane leaks around the world could help make up near-term shortfalls in energy for Europe while reducing global emissions – a win-win for the planet.
Parliament has pushed the ambition on the Methane Regulation in several significant ways. These include requirements for companies to detect and repair leaks in their operations, ban venting and flaring, as well as introduce performance standards for the sector, and a total emission reduction target to be set before 2026. Crucially, they also introduced the world’s first import standard, which would expand the scope of regulations to oil and gas being imported into the EU, and required the Commission to adopt a methane intensity standard for domestic and imported gas following an impact assessment.
The recommendations approved today now go to trilogues. As the text that emerged from the Council of the European Union was extremely limited, strong Parliamentary backing of the agreed measures is crucial for ensuring that the final version of the legislation does not fall short.
“With both international commitments and RePowerEU targets lined up for 2030, Europe must take swift action on methane emissions to keep those targets in reach” said Alessia Virone, Government Affairs Director, Europe at CATF. “Member states now must step up and back these Parliament recommendations so the EU can bend its emissions curve and reclaim its place as a global leader on methane pollution prevention ahead of COP28.”
As the large majority of emissions from EU gas consumption take place outside of the EU borders, the extension of mitigation measures could have a major impact in terms of cleaning up the value-chain and cutting methane globally. The EU’s gas imports market touches on over 51% of global production.
Methane pollution in the energy sector is not just a climate problem, it also a represents a significant waste of energy and a missed opportunity to harness this gas to help solve Europe’s ongoing energy crisis. In the RePowerEU strategy, the Commission announced a program called “you collect, we buy” that could be harnessed to reduce the 210 billion cubic metres of gas that is wasted globally through flaring, venting and fugitive emissions.
CATF and YouGov polling indicates that measures on imports are highly popular with Europeans, with 90% of respondents calling for rules for export countries. Even when the introduction of such measures were to increase household energy costs, 67% of respondents supported or strongly supported the idea.
Methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period and is responsible for 0.5°C of the warming the earth has experienced to date. Because of its potency — and its short lifespan compared to carbon dioxide — cutting methane pollution is the fastest way to slow the escalating rate of global warming. Scientists agree that we will not be able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees or any target, without drastically cutting our anthropogenic methane emissions.
Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, EU, [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.