Reducing methane emissions: the new EU strategy

On 27 May 2021, the ENVI committee hosted a public hearing on the new EU strategy to reduce methane emissions. Experts, members of the European Parliament, and Commissioners discussed measuring and reducing methane emissions in the waste, energy, and agriculture sector. 

As indicated in the draft report, the new legislation will tackle the following points: 

  • Importance of EU Action across the supply chain
  • Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV)
  • Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR)
  • Performance Standards, Benchmarks and Emission Limits
  • Abandoned and Unused Oil and Gas Wells
  • International Action
  • Abandoned and Unused Coal Mines

During this public hearing, emphasis was placed on the progress made in the waste management sector, i.e. through the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).  

A proposal to set a price on methane emissions has also been made. This strategy is already in place for carbon dioxide emissions with carbon pricing: this market-based approach aims at reducing CO2 emissions by putting a price on tons of carbon dioxide for industry and consumers. As a result, effective methane pricing could lower the cost and increase the economic efficiency of reducing emissions. 

“Methane is a much higher global warming potential but live less long in the atmosphere than CO2. Actions we take today has a rapid impact on climate change. […] I would like also to cite the work of the UN environmental programme and the global methane assessment which estimates that achieving a 40 to 45% reduction in global methane emissions by 2030 could slow the rate of global warming by 30% by 2040.” 

 – Kitti Nyitrai,
Head of Unit Decarbonisation and sustainability of energy sources  at the European Commission

During the meeting, Professor Myles Allen from the University of Oxford’s Net Zero unit emphasized the misunderstanding of the consequences of methane. According to him, the climate impact caused by methane emissions mainly depends on warming, not “CO2-equivalent emission”. He also mentioned that the EU should set a separate, ambitious – yet realistic – target to reduce biogenic methane emission. 

On 14 October 2020, the European Commission launched the EU strategy to reduce methane emissions. It aims to achieve the 2050 EU climate-neutral goal by improving methane measurement and reporting. This strategy encourages the use of tools, such as satellite data sharing and biogas industry opportunities. This public hearing highlighted the new strategy, you can read more about it here. 

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