Late Tuesday night, negotiators from the Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement on a new law to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector. 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.
Oil and gas
Co-legislators agreed that operators in these sectors must detect and repair methane leaks. They must submit a methane leak detection and repair programme to the relevant national authorities nine months from the date of entry into force of this regulation and carry out a first leak detection and repair survey of existing sites within 12 months.
Obligations to repair leaks will also be strengthened, so that operators must repair or replace all components found to be leaking methane above certain levels immediately after a leak has been detected or no later than five days after.
Co-legislators also decided a ban on venting and flaring methane from drainage stations, which release methane into the atmosphere, by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027 with few exceptions.
The new law also obliges EU countries to establish an inventory for inactive or abandoned wells and to establish mitigation plans.
Co-legislators agreed that EU countries have to continuously measure and report methane emissions from operating underground mines and from surface mines. In addition, they will have to set-up a public inventory of mines closed or abandoned in the last 70 years and measure their emissions, except for mines that have been flooded for more than 10 years.
Flaring will be banned from 1 January 2025. Venting will be banned from 1 January 2027 in coal mines emitting more than 5 tonnes of methane per kilotonne of coal mined and from 1 January 2031 in mines emitting more than 3 tonnes of methane per kilotonne of coal mined. Venting and flaring from closed and abandoned mines will be banned from 1 January 2030.
Requirements for imported oil, gas and coal
As imports make up over 80% of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, co-legislators agree to also set-up requirements for imported oil, gas and coal. As of 1 January 2027, importers would have to demonstrated equivalent monitoring, reporting and verification requirements at production level.
Co-legislators also agreed to task the Commission to present a delegated act by 3 years after entry into force to set methane intensity classes for crude oil, natural gas and coal placed on the EU market at the level of the producer or company. This will incentivise best performing producers and contribute to reducing global methane emissions with due consideration given to the EU’s security of supply and international competitiveness.
After the deal was reached the co-rapporteur, Jutta Paulus (Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, DE) said: “Finally, the EU tackles the second most important greenhouse gas with ambitious measures. Less methane emissions mean more climate protection and more energy sovereignty. The extension to imports, which was my main priority in the parliament’s position, will have repercussions worldwide. I am very pleased that we will go to the UN climate conference in Dubai with full hands: The EU delivers on the Global Methane Pledge.”
“We have a deal on the first EU methane regulation. It will cover domestic emissions and imports. Methane was a blind spot of our climate strategy. It is not anymore! Another piece of the Green deal is agreed and we are proud to do it a few days before COP28,” said after the deal was reached the co-rapporteur, Pascal Canfin (Renew, FR).
The deal still has to be adopted by Parliament and Council, after which the new law will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.
The EU aims to reduce global methane emissions
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.