EU Plans Legislation to Reduce Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuels

Gas flaring, found to be a major cause of methane emissions

(Credit: International Energy Agency)

by | Nov 16, 2023

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The EU Commission has reached a provisional agreement for a new regulation aimed at reducing methane emissions from fossil fuels in the European energy sector and international supply chains.

The regulation would include required measuring, monitoring, and reporting of methane emissions from the gas, oil, and coal industries and plans to enforce action towards making necessary emissions reductions. The EU aims for methane abatement to contribute greatly to the European Green Deal goal of lowering emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The Commission said it is the first law in the EU to tackle methane emissions.

Specifics from the proposed EU Regulation include a number of rules for reporting methane emissions and providing transparent updates on reduction activities. This includes regular surveys of equipment to check for methane leaks, bans of routine venting and flaring, and limited venting from thermal coal mines, among others.

Since the EU imports much of the fossil fuel energy sources it consumes, the regulations will also address methane emissions from these supply chains. The regulation agreement includes the establishment of a methane transparency database, global methane emitters monitoring tools, and monitoring obligations for new import contracts of oil, gas, and coal starting in 2027.

“This landmark agreement will allow us to seriously tackle the energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and beyond,” said Kadri Simson, commissioner for energy. “This first-of-its-kind regulation enables the EU to curb methane emissions in a cost-effective manner and address venting and flaring of gas, which make economically and environmentally little sense. This will benefit our planet and will also avoid wasted resources in tight global gas markets.”

Methane Reductions Reportedly Crucial in Meeting Global Emissions Targets

Reducing methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, has gained attention as a key to meeting global decarbonization targets. The gas is especially prevalent in the agricultural industry and in the fossil fuel sector, and methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry will need to account for half of overall global methane reductions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA’s 2023 World Energy Outlook explains that increased renewable energy production may contribute to a needed 75% reduction in methane emissions from fossil fuel operations. Rapid cuts in methane emissions from fossil fuels may have the same impact as taking all cars and trucks in the world off the road, says the organization.

Regulation of agricultural methane emissions through legislation has also been suggested as major meat and dairy companies experienced increased methane emissions in the past year.



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