Cutting Methane Pollution in Europe
EU leaders are failing to act on methane pollution
In 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU-wide legislation to combat methane pollution – an invisible greenhouse gas that is about 80x more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. The know-how and technology to cut methane from the oil and gas sector already exists and other places have started to implement them. The legislative proposal, already not ambitious enough, is currently being discussed in the Parliament and the Council and at risk of being further weakened instead of strengthened. So what’s holding Europe back?
ATTENTION: The legislation has stalled, with industry voices looking to weaken key provisions, delay implementation, and avoid oversight. The time is now to turn words into actions, and reduce the harmful effects of methane pollution.
Cutting methane emissions is the best way to substantially reduce warming in the next two decades. The quickest, easiest and cheapest way to make headway is by cleaning up the oil and gas sector. Anybody delaying action on methane is putting climate targets out of reach.
Jonathan Banks, CATF’s International Director, Methane Pollution Prevention
Did you know?
Fossil fuel operators could cut 75% of emissions with existing technology
40% of those cuts would have a zero-net cost
5 steps policymakers need to take
Smart methane policy can rapidly reduce emissions in Europe and around the world.
Here are the five things we need to see in this new legislation:
1. Comprehensive Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) Program
These programs require operators to regularly survey all of their facilities for leaks and improper emissions, and repair all the leaks they identify in a reasonable time. Most leaks are straightforward to repair, and finding leaks has become efficient with modern technology. An efficient EU LDAR legislation would make monthly or quarterly instrument-based leak detection mandatory, or push for continuous monitoring with advanced technologies. Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, emissions from leaks can be cut by 90% with monthly inspections or 80% with quarterly inspections.
2. Ban on Routine Venting and Flaring
Methane venting and flaring are controlled releases of greenhouse gasses that are part of routine operations from the oil and gas sector. Routine venting and flaring should be banned, with clearly defined exceptions for safety reasons, emergency, or circumstances where capture of sale and reinjection would not be technically possible or would be extraordinarily costly. Anything not specifically allowed under an exemption would be banned. Rules prohibiting venting of natural gas can easily reduce emissions by 95%.
3. Regulations on Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV)
A robust and scientifically rigorous Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) system is necessary to identify issues as well as to assess the progress achieved by other methane curbing legislation. Emissions monitoring should rely on a comprehensive equipment survey, granular, detailed reports, and application of the most up-to-date emission factors on the whole EU oil and gas supply chain. Reporting should include detailed emissions information and not just overall aggregate emissions at the country or asset level. And finally, third-party verification will be needed on emissions from fossil gas imported to the EU.
4. Tough Import Standards from Production Regions Outside the EU
The EU imports over 80% of the gas and 90% of the oil it consumes. Consequently, most of the methane emissions created as a result of EU oil and gas consumption happens outside of EU borders. LDAR standards and the ban on venting and flaring should apply to imports and cover the full value chain up to the point of production.
5. Dealing with Abandoned and Unused Oil and Gas Wells
We do not know the total number of abandoned wells in Europe. Wells that have been improperly closed have been found to emit a continuous stream of methane. The issue of abandoned and unused wells is complicated by the difficulty in identifying which companies own them or are responsible for them. A separate program on methane mitigation for abandoned wells should be established to ensure finding, sealing, and monitoring of these wells. Such a program could lead to substantial reductions in methane emissions from abandoned wells as well as employment opportunities.
Dive deeper into CATF’s methane policy recommendations.
Tell policymakers you demand
action on methane!
No more self-regulation – cut methane emissions now @EP_Industry, @EP_Environment, @Europarl_EN, catf.us/learn/methane-eu/
CATF’s Work on Methane
Hunting for methane emissions across Europe
Since 2021, Clean Air Task Force has been documenting methane emissions from oil and gas facilities all around Europe. When we started this campaign, policymakers told us that methane wasn’t a problem in Europe – after inspecting over 300 facilities in 14 countries, they aren’t saying that anymore.
Learn more about CATF’s Cut Methane campaign.
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