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Thank you, EU lawmakers, for reducing global methane pollution

EU policymakers recently passed the bloc’s first major methane regulation – notable for including a groundbreaking new methane import standard that addresses methane emissions from imported oil and gas.

As the world’s largest importer of oil and gas, the EU took advantage of its unique position and leveraged its buying power and climate ambition to drastically reduce global methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Special thank you to all the negotiators and staff involved in designing the regulation, including but not limited to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, and Members of the European Parliament Jutta Paulus, Pascal Canfin, Maria Spyraki and Martin Hojsík. 

Benefits of the EU Methane Regulation:

1/3 Oil and Gas Emissions Reduced Globally

The EU Methane Regulation has the potential to reduce 1/3 of global methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

10 Million Lives Improved

The EU Methane Regulation has the potential to improve the health of almost 10 million people living near flares in EU oil and gas supplying countries.

20x Climate Benefits

With an import standard included, the EU Methane Regulation will reduce 20 times more methane emissions than a regulation covering only domestic EU oil and gas production.

The global impact of the methane import standard:

  • With a methane import standard included, the Methane Regulation has the potential to reduce almost a third (33%) of global methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, which represents 7% of all man-made methane emissions globally.
  • If these reductions are accomplished by 2030, they represent a 20% progress towards achieving the Global Methane Pledge goal which was spearheaded by EU leaders.
  • The import standard will reduce 20 times more methane emissions than a regulation covering only domestic EU oil and gas production.
  • The amount of gas saved represents €54 billion in savings to exporting partner countries and €1 billion for oil and gas producing countries within the EU.
  • The total gas saved – 91 billion cubic meters (bcm) – represents almost the entire yearly consumption of Germany (94 bcm), which is the highest consumer of gas in the EU and one of the largest importers of gas in the world.
  • An import standard will improve the lives of almost 10 million people living within 5km of flares in EU supply countries.

Smart methane policy

Apart from a methane import standard, the EU Methane Regulation
contains four other key components:

1. Ban on Routine Venting and Flaring for the Oil and Gas Sector

The EU Methane Regulation bans routine venting and flaring and limits non-routine venting and flaring to unavoidable circumstances, such as for emergency and safety reasons. This ban is key for tackling methane pollution as routine venting and flaring are the largest sources of methane emissions within the EU and around the globe. 

2. Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV)

The EU Methane Regulation is the first regulation globally that requires measurement, reporting, and verification of methane emissions, both from specific sources and from entire facilities, using direct measurements rather than estimates. As such, this regulation will establish a robust and scientifically rigorous system to identify issues as well as to assess the progress achieved by methane emission abatement programs.  

3. Dealing with Abandoned and Unused Oil and Gas Wells

We do not know the total number of abandoned wells in Europe; therefore, the EU Methane Regulation requires companies to create an inventory of abandoned and unused oil and gas wells, monitor their emissions, and adopt a plan to mitigate these emissions as soon as possible. This requirement could lead to substantial reductions in methane emissions from abandoned wells as well as employment opportunities in oil and gas producing Member States. 

4. Methane Transparency Database and Rapid Alert Mechanism for Super-Emitting Events

The new EU Methane regulation also features key mechanisms that will help improve the quality and transparency of emissions data, providing information to importers and consumers on the suppliers’ performance and so helping them make decisions regarding new energy contracts. 

The rapid alert mechanism will spur action to address large methane leaks detected inside and outside EU borders. Ultimately, both mechanisms will be instrumental for reducing methane emissions globally. 

Thank you, EU leaders, for taking action on methane pollution

Survey shows widespread support for methane regulations

European citizens from France, Italy, Germany, and Poland strongly support tough regulations to reduce methane emissions. CATF found widespread support for strong methane regulations among Europeans after conducting a first-of-its-kind cross-national survey of public attitudes toward regulating methane in the energy sector. 

Roadmap for the Development of an EU Methane Import Standard

The EU imports 90% of the gas and 97% of the oil it consumes, which means that by implementing a rigorous import standard for these fossil fuels, the EU can take steps to drive methane reduction among its trade partners, reducing the global emissions associated with Europe’s gas consumption.

The EU’s Opportunity to Curb Flaring Pollution and Protect Millions

In this study, Clean Air Task Force shows that oil and gas imports to the European Union expose nearly 10 million people to an avoidable practice known as flaring, which is known to release high levels of harmful chemicals. Through a strong methane import standard, the EU can dent global flaring emissions and decrease the health risk of nearby populations.

The Impact of EU Methane Import Performance Standard

This report shows that a phased methane import performance standard could be implemented as early as 2027, and would reduce emissions associated with oil and gas imports by at least 1.9 million tons per year. The report shows that the standard would have minimal price impacts for natural gas, and not pose any risk to EU energy security.

It Happens Here Too: Methane Pollution in Europe’s Oil and Gas Network

800+ methane emission sources identified around Europe highlights the need for strong EU Methane Regulation.

CATF visited over 430 oil and gas sites between February 2021 and March 2023, documenting 881 sources of methane emissions across 15 countries.