EU lawmakers back binding targets for cutting methane emissions
EU lawmakers on October 21 supported introducing binding targets. for reducing methane emissions across multiple sectors.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in 563 in favour of binding commitments, calling for the European Commission to introduce mandatory monitoring, reporting and verification measures for all methane-emitting sectors, and mandatory leak detection and repair programmes for the energy and petrochemical sectors. 122 lawmakers voted against the motion and there were 11 abstentions.
"MEPs want to phase out all fossil fuels in the EU as soon as possible," the European Parliament said in a statement. "As imports make up over 80% of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, fossil fuels should only be imported if they comply with EU regulations, MEPs demand. Leak detection efforts should be boosted with strict reporting and a requirement to repair potential leaks within a clearly defined period."
Lawmakers also noted that agriculture is the largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions in the EU, primarily coming from livestock. New measures should be introduced to minimise those emissions, MEPs agreed, while making sure that food production is not simply moved outside the EU, by ensuring that imports comply to the same standards.
They also asked the commission to set binding targets to reduce commercial and industrial waste, another key source of methane.
The European Commission published a methane strategy in October last year, and is due to adopt a legislative proposal in December to reduce methane emissions specifically in the energy sector. Commenting on the proposal on October 21, European energy commissioner Kadri Simson said the legislation would have two key pillars.
First, it will aim to “improve the accuracy of information on the exact amounts and main sources of methane emissions to allow for more effective and more targeted methane abatement measures.” Second, it strives to “achieve immediate emission reductions across the energy supply chain, by intervening on those fronts where action is possible. This includes mandatory leak detection and repair and limiting venting and flaring.”
The commission is also “exploring the possibility to incentivise methane emission reductions outside the EU, from our trading partners,” she said.
“The EU is a global fossil fuel importer and must use this leverage to foster methane emissions commitments among its suppliers,” the commissioner said. “This can only be a progressive process. We will work on further measures once more accurate and reliable data becomes available.”