Policymakers from the European Union have reached a political agreement on the EU Methane Regulation, including partial measures on the heavily debated issue of fossil fuel imports.
After a two-year long process, the EU held its final trialogue meeting last night (14 November) in a meeting which ended in the early hours of today
The EU Methane Regulation is the first European legislative text aiming to tackle this climate super-pollutant, responsible for about one-third of global warming observed to date.
EIA Climate Campaigner Kim O’Dowd said: ‘’The long-awaited EU Methane Regulation marks an important milestone. Effectively tackling methane emissions from the energy sector is one of the most cost-effective ways to limit global warming in the near term. The agreement reached is a positive stride in the right direction.
‘’We very much welcome these measures. When implemented effectively, they have the potential to significantly cut methane emissions in the EU, while saving supplies.”
The Regulation puts in place obligations on monitoring, reporting and verification, leak detection and repair, while limits to venting and flaring will be applied to operators within the EU.
While measures on EU segments of the supply chain are vital, the benchmark for the EU Methane Regulation has always been how it addresses the upstream segments of the supply chain because the bloc relies on imports for 70 per cent of its hard coal consumption, 97 per cent of its oil consumption and 90 percent of its fossil gas consumption.
O’Dowd added: ‘’It is encouraging to note that in recent weeks, both the Council and the Commission have transitioned from outright opposition to measures on imports to now incorporating a performance standard on the supply chain. Nevertheless, this agreed-on proposal falls short on the comprehensive and practical mitigation measures put forward by the European Parliament, which offered clear, concrete and achievable solutions.’’
The Regulation will enter the implementation phase in 2024 and EIA will continue to advocate for stronger measures.
‘’While the Regulation establishes a foundation, effort will be required to ensure its effectiveness. There’s a pressing need to enhance import measures, particularly the intensity standard set to enter into force in 2030, and to ensure its continuous alignment with cutting-edge technology for methane detection and mitigation,’’ said O’Dowd.
EIA Senior Lawyer Tim Grabiel added: ‘’The jury’s still out on whether the provisions on imports pack a punch against methane emissions, given the lackluster track record of the EU on intensity standards.
“We’ll be calling on the next Commission to push for an extended effort on leak detection and repair and limits to venting and flaring to truly tackle methane emissions associated with fossil fuel imports.”
The agreement was reached a few weeks before the CoP28 UN climate summit, which will mark the two-year anniversary of the Global Methane Pledge, launched at CoP26 by the US and the EU.
‘’Through this Regulation, the EU is signalling its commitment to the implementation of the Global Methane Pledge as it approaches CoP28 and will hopefully inspire other signatories to do the same. However, to sustain its leadership role and demonstrate unwavering commitment to the Pledge, the EU must extend its focus beyond the energy sector to include agriculture and waste,” concluded O’Dowd
“Simultaneously, the EU needs to ensure the Pledge’s longevity by catalysing the development of a robust global governance framework. This framework should incentivise countries to adopt clear national targets and mitigation measures, supported by comprehensive monitoring and a dedicated financial mechanism.”