- First EU-wide legislation aimed at cutting methane emissions
- Imported energy should also adhere to the new rules
- Binding 2030 methane reduction targets for all sectors should be proposed by 2025
- Methane is responsible for about a third of current global warming
Parliament today adopted its position on a new law to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector to reach the EU’s climate goals and improve air quality.
The new law is the first piece of EU legislation 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.
Parliament urges 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 furthermore set national reduction targets as part of their integrated national energy and climate plans.
Obligations to detect and repair methane leaks strengthened
Operators must 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, with operators repairing or replacing all components found to be leaking methane immediately after the leak has been detected or no later than five days after.
Parliament supports a ban on venting and flaring 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.
Imported fossil energy must also live up to the new rules
As imports make up over 80% of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, MEPs want, from 2026, importers of coal, oil and gas to be obliged to demonstrate that imported fossil energy also meets the requirements in the regulation. Imports from countries with similar requirements for methane emissions shall be exempted.
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 through simple measures and without large investments. As Europe imports more than 80% of the fossil fuels it burns, is essential to expand the scope to energy imports."
Parliament adopted its position with 499 votes in favour, 73 against and 55 abstentions and is now ready to start negotiations with Council on the final text of the legislation.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and air pollutant and is responsible for approximately a third of current global warming. It comes from a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, waste and energy, which are responsible respectively for 53%, 26% and 19% of EU methane emissions according to the European Environment Agency. Today, methane emissions are covered under the targets in the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation.
The EU has signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, which could eliminate over 0.2˚C warming by 2050.
In adopting this legislation, Parliament is responding to citizens' expectations to accomplish and speed up the green transition as expressed in Proposals 2(2), 3(2), 11(1) and 11(7) of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe.