EU Tackles Methane: New Rules to Slash Emissions by 30x More Than CO2

May 29, 2024
1 min read
Methane burns from a flaring unit at a solid waste landfill.
Methane burns from a flaring unit at a solid waste landfill. Photo Credit- Carl Young (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

The European Union today adopted new requirements to measure, report, and verify methane emissions in the energy sector to limit the climate impact of this greenhouse gas, which is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

” Methane, a short-lived climate pollutant up to 30 times more potent than CO2, is the second most important greenhouse gas. To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, we must cut methane emissions in the oil, gas, and coal sectors,” said Belgium’s Energy Minister, Tinne Van der Straeten, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, in a statement.

Specifically, energy operators will have to measure methane emissions at the source level and prepare monitoring reports that will be verified by accredited and independent verifier.

Member States will have to prepare and regularly update an inventory of all active wells, as well as mitigation plans for inactive ones, to prevent leaks. They will also measure and monitor emissions from coal mines that have been closed or abandoned for less than 70 years, as methane continues to be released even when production stops.

“Methane is the second highest contributor to global warming and air pollution after CO2, accounting for around a third of greenhouse gas emissions, harming both our environment and our health,” said the European Commission for Energy, Kadri Simson.

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National authorities will have to conduct periodic inspections and apply “corrective” measures if operators do not comply. Operators, in turn, will have to detect and repair leaks in their infrastructures within specific timeframes.

Additionally, methane emissions outside the EU concerning energy imports will also be monitored. “The new rules will introduce global monitoring tools to increase the transparency of methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU,” the Council noted.

The rules will come into force 21 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the EU, and the Commission will review the regulation’s implementation in 2028.

A rapid alert mechanism for ‘super-emitting’ events, like incidents where facilities, equipment or infrastructure emit very high rates of methane will be set up by the European Commission. EU and Non-EU countries, both, will be alerted by the warning system in order for action to be taken to stop or prevent them. 

“With the final EU adoption of the methane regulation we now have means to get clearer insight into the main sources of methane emissions in the energy sector. This will increase transparency and provide the tools necessary to reduce these potent emissions, both in the EU and globally,” concluded Simson.

Sunita Somvanshi

With over two decades of dedicated service in the state environmental ministry, this seasoned professional has cultivated a discerning perspective on the intricate interplay between environmental considerations and diverse industries. Sunita is armed with a keen eye for pivotal details, her extensive experience uniquely positions her to offer insightful commentary on topics ranging from business sustainability and global trade's environmental impact to fostering partnerships, optimizing freight and transport for ecological efficiency, and delving into the realms of thermal management, logistics, carbon credits, and energy transition. Through her writing, she not only imparts valuable knowledge but also provides a nuanced understanding of how businesses can harmonize with environmental imperatives, making her a crucial voice in the discourse on sustainable practices and the future of industry.

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