EU Votes to Boost Methane Emission Reductions from the Energy Sector
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- First EU-wide legislation aimed at cutting methane emissions
- Binding 2030 methane reduction target should be proposed by 2025
- Imported energy should also be included
- Methane is responsible for about a third of current global warming
EU Parliament’s Environment and Industry Committees adopted their position on reducing methane emissions in the energy sector to reach EU climate goals and improve air quality.
The new legislation, adopted with 114 votes in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, is the first aimed at cutting methane emissions and covers direct methane emissions from the oil, fossil gas and coal sectors, and from biomethane once it is injected into the gas network. MEPs also want the new rules to include the petrochemicals sector.
A 2030 methane emissions reduction target needed
MEPs urge the Commission to propose a binding 2030 reduction target for EU methane emissions for all relevant sectors by the end of 2025. Member states should set national reduction targets as part of their integrated national energy and climate plans.
See related article: EU Reaches Deal to Increase Uptake of Greener Aviation Fuels
Obligations to repair methane leaks strengthened
Operators would be obliged to submit a methane leak detection and repair programme to the relevant national authorities six months from the date of entry into force of this regulation, with MEPs demanding more frequent leak detection and repair surveys compared to what the Commission is proposing. They also want to strengthen the obligations to repair leaks as operators shall repair or replace all components found to be leaking methane immediately after detection or no later than five days.
Ban on venting and flaring of methane
The text envisages a ban on venting and flaring of methane from drainage stations by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027, ensuring safety for workers in coalmines. It also obliges EU countries to establish mitigation plans for abandoned coalmines and inactive oil and fossil gas wells.
Imports of fossil energy must also be covered
As imports make up over 80% of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, MEPs propose that from 2026 importers of coal, oil and gas will have to demonstrate that the imported fossil energy also lives up to the requirements in the regulation. Imports from countries with similar requirements for methane emissions shall be exempted from EU rules.
After the vote the rapporteur, Jutta Paulus (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, DE) said: “Today’s vote is a commitment to more climate protection and energy sovereignty in Europe. Without ambitious measures to reduce methane emissions, Europe will miss its climate targets and valuable energy will continue to be wasted. We call for ambitious and stringent methane reduction measures. In the energy sector, three quarters of methane emissions can be avoided by simple measures and without large investments. As Europe imports more than 80% of the fossil fuels it burns, is essential to expand the scope of these rules to energy imports.”