The European Parliament has adopted a new law to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector as part of the Fit for 55 initiative.
The new initiative is designed to help the EU achieve its climate goals and improve air quality. The legislation marks the first EU-wide effort aimed at cutting methane emissions and covers direct emissions from the oil, fossil gas, coal, and biomethane sectors, as well as the petrochemicals sector.
The driving force behind this new legislation is the need to tackle methane emissions, which are responsible for roughly a third of current global warming. By addressing this issue, the EU aims to reach its climate objectives and improve overall air quality.
The Fit for 55 initiative focuses on reducing methane emissions from a range of sectors, including agriculture, waste, and energy, which account for 53%, 26%, and 19% of EU methane emissions respectively, according to the European Environment Agency. Methane emissions are currently covered under the targets in the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation.
The new law outlines obligations for operators to detect and repair methane leaks. Operators must submit a methane leak detection and repair programme to the relevant national authorities within six months from the date of the regulation’s entry into force. The legislation also includes more frequent leak detection and repair surveys, as well as strengthened obligations to repair leaks.
The parliament supports a ban on venting and flaring methane from drainage stations by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027, ensuring safety for workers in coal mines. It also mandates EU countries to establish mitigation plans for abandoned coal mines and inactive oil and fossil gas wells.
MEPs call for the inclusion of imported fossil energy in the new rules, as imports make up over 80% of the oil and gas consumed in the EU. Starting from 2026, importers of coal, oil, and gas will be obliged to demonstrate that imported fossil energy also meets the requirements in the regulation.
After the vote, Jutta Paulus, rapporteur from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, said, “Today’s vote is a commitment to more climate protection and energy sovereignty in Europe. Without ambitious measures to reduce methane emissions, Europe will miss its climate targets and valuable energy will continue to be wasted.
“We call for ambitious and stringent methane reduction measures. In the energy sector, three quarters of methane emissions can be avoided through simple measures and without large investments. As Europe imports more than 80% of the fossil fuels it burns, it is essential to expand the scope to energy imports.”
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, potentially eliminating over 0.2˚C of warming by 2050.
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