The EU unveils a Methane Regulation – but its worrying lack of ambition will fail climate goals
A new Methane Regulation unveiled today by the European Commission is a half-hearted step back from EU climate goals.
Methane emissions resulting from the petrochemical industry’s extraction and production of coal, gas and oil are responsible for 25 per cent of overall global warming and tackling them is an essential element of the fight against catastrophic climate change.
EIA Climate campaigners, together with our partners Food & Water Action Europe and Deutsche Umwelthilfe, warned that the Regulation is letting fossil fuel imports off the hook.
Methane emissions are 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide and tackling the energy sector has been identified as the most cost effective way of reducing them.
The Commission’s Regulation puts in place a framework with obligations on measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), leak detection and repair (LDAR) and a ban on routine venting and flaring (BRVF) of gases, which are the three main pillars of effective methane emissions mitigation.
But despite numerous calls from European policymakers and recommendations from leading NGOs, the Regulation lacks a key element – extending the framework to all oil, gas and coal consumed in the EU, imports included, and to the petrochemical sector.
The EU imports more than 80 per cent of the fossil gas, 90 per cent of the crude oil and 40 per cent of the coal it consumes, long after methane has been emitted outside EU borders.
EIA Climate Campaigner Kim O’Dowd said: “The Commission is hiding behind excuses. With this regulation, the EU will continue to drive global methane emissions in other countries, turning a blind eye to its role.
“In the context of the Global Methane Pledge to take action on these emissions –launched and adopted by the US, EU and others at the UN CoP26 climate change summit in November – the EU should be irreproachable, but this proposal sends completely the wrong message, effectively saying it’s okay for the EU and other countries to pledge and pontificate at the podium and then dally and dither at home.”
As a major importer of fossil gas and oil, the EU must work on cutting methane emissions along the whole supply chain and, in the meantime, implement phase-out plans to get rid of oil, fossil gas and coal.
Members of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union now have the opportunity to improve the proposal.