EU agrees on fewer methane emissions

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Negotiators from the European Commission, Environment Ministers and the European Parliament have agreed on limiting methane emissions from the energy sectors in the 27 EU countries. After CO2, methane gas is one of the biggest causes of climate change. The gas also causes serious health problems.

The agreement comes two weeks before COP28, the international climate summit in Dubai. Additional agreements must be made there to combat global warming. Methane is about 30 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. Most emissions come from the energy, agriculture and waste sectors. 

Measures are also already being taken in European agriculture to limit methane emissions. Methane emissions have now become an important part of research in the dairy industry. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is considering including methane emissions per kilo of milk in the criteria for sustainable livestock farming.

The agreement now concluded in Brussels forces the fossil gas, oil and coal industries to measure, monitor and report “their” methane emissions. The agreement still needs to be formally approved by both the European Parliament and the EU countries, but that is mostly a formality. The package is one of the measures that EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra will introduce in Dubai.

The United States, the European Union and other countries have previously pledged to reduce total global methane emissions by 30% by 2030. According to the Commission, energy suppliers must identify and repair methane leaks in their pipeline networks. They must also stop routinely blowing off and flaring gas pipelines from 2027.

The EU methane regulation for the energy sector is part of the European Green Deal that aims to set the most ambitious climate and biodiversity goals in the world. As the EU imports large quantities of oil, gas and coal, from 2027 new import contracts may only be concluded if exporters apply the same obligations as producers in the EU,” the Commission said.