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Environmental groups call on the European Commission to act on energy imports

BRUSSELS: Leading environmental groups have today called on European Commissioners to address methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal in the upcoming EU methane legislation, which is expected to be proposed in December 2021.

Last year, the European Commission adopted the EU Methane Strategy to tackle methane emissions as part of 2030 climate targets and the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. In the coming months, the Commission will submit a legislative proposal that will include measures to monitor and mitigate methane emissions.

However, there is a gaping absence – imported gas, oil and coal.

The EU imports more than 80 per cent of the fossil gas it consumes, 90 per cent of the crude oil and 40 per cent of the coal long after methane has been emitted outside EU borders where most methane emissions occur. And when methane leakage rates along the gas supply chain exceed three per cent, the climate impact of fossil gas is worse than that of coal in power generation.

To address methane emissions, the EU will need to cut its domestic emissions, but to address the core problem, it is also critical that all measures are extended to imported oil, gas and coal. Ultimately, the environment is indifferent to where emissions occur.

To urge the Commission to make energy imports conditional on their compliance with EU regulations, a coalition of organisations has alerted Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy and Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, through a letter sent today outlining concern that the Commission will propose to apply the regulatory framework only within the EU rather than extending it to the whole supply chain, calling it a “unjustified and irresponsible lack of ambition.”

The groups also address the recently announced Global Methane Pledge, a diplomatic effort which should not replace concrete EU regulatory framework as it is neither specific nor significant enough to ensure reductions emissions across the supply chain.

The environmental groups call on the Commission not to hide behind the excuse of the implementation. Many regulations provide ample inspiration; the EU Timber regulation has put in place an immediate suspension of the authorisation to import until violations are addressed; and the EU F-Gas Regulation has implemented a reduction in allowable imports from one year to next.

Many important stakeholders share the position of the signatories – the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has called the Commission to integrate the rules on the whole supply chain in the legislative proposal. But also major energy companies such as Shell, BP and Total among many others have also come out in support of introducing EU rules to all oil and gas consumed in the EU.

The decision of the Commission will determine whether this legislation is a comprehensive approach to reducing methane emissions or if it is a flawed one.



  • Tim Grabiel, EIA Senior Lawyer, timgrabiel[at]
  • Kim O’Dowd, EIA Climate Campaigner, kimodowd[at]
  • Paul Newman, EIA Senior Press & Communications Officer, press[at]



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