Brussels, November 15, 2023 -- In a momentous climate decision, the European Union has today agreed on a first-of-its-kind legislation to rein in dangerous methane emissions within and far beyond its borders.
The groundbreaking methane regulation sets strict new curbs on emissions from fossil fuel operations across the bloc's 27 member states. Tough standards will also apply to imports from the many oil, coal and natural gas exporters that supply to the EU.
Incoming regulations specifically targeting methane emissions from imported oil and gas, are estimated to drive 2 to 6 times greater emissions reductions compared to regulations covering all domestic EU emissions from energy, including coal.
This substantial additional decrease is achievable because the EU's methane footprint related to oil and gas imports, is 3 to 8 times that of the EU domestic oil and gas supply chain. By setting stringent standards for its imported oil and gas, the EU's regulations should lead to major global methane emissions reductions that go far beyond what could be achieved through domestic actions alone.
With energy security concerns ongoing after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, reducing methane emissions is also an energy security issue. Abating methane emissions will help ensure available supplies are not wasted, especially during winter heating seasons in Europe.
Flavia Sollazzo, Senior Director of EU Energy Transition at Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDF Europe): “This is a very clear message from the EU and particularly ahead of COP28 – that climate responsibility doesn't stop at its borders. And that as the world's largest buyer of natural gas, it is prepared to use its influence to help drive global methane emission reduction.”
“While this is a strong signal, we must act faster to leverage a closing opportunity for our climate. Otherwise, we risk missing climate goals under the Paris Agreement and the EU climate targets.”
"The oil and gas industry should see this moment as an opportunity and use its resources to find solutions for curbing emissions. Reducing leaks quickly pays for itself by preventing waste - good from an economic and energy security perspective. This is a defining moment for the EU and helps give our planet a fighting chance."
Helen Spence Jackson, Executive Director, at EDF Europe, adds: "Methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas in the near term. Cutting emissions swiftly and dramatically is critical to slowing the devastating impacts of climate change. The EU is raising ambitions not just through words, but through action that will help protect future generations."
The EU’s methane legislation is expected to enter into force in early 2024.
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Notes to editors
The Methane Menace
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas identified as the second-largest contributor to global warming, with a warming potential over 80 times greater than that of carbon dioxide during the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. Atmospheric concentration of methane is increasing faster now than at any time since the 1980s. Methane emissions from human activity are responsible for at least 25% of today's warming. The oil and gas sector stands out as a significant contributor, with methane emissions about 70% higher than official data shows and expected to increase.
About The Environmental Defense Fund
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