EU ministers give final green light to regulation on cutting methane emissions in the energy sector

The Council of the European Union adopted on May 27 a regulation on tracking and reducing methane emissions, a statement by the Council of the EU said.

The regulation, part of the EU’s “Fit for 55” package, introduces new requirements on measuring, reporting and verifying methane emissions in the energy sector.

Mitigation measures, such as detecting and repairing methane leaks and limiting venting and flaring, will aim to avoid methane emissions.

Global monitoring tools will ensure transparency on methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU.

Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Minister for Energy Methane – whose country currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU – said: “Methane, a short-lived climate pollutant up to 30 times more potent than CO2, is the second most important greenhouse gas.

“To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, we must cut methane emissions in the oil, gas, and coal sectors. This legislation ensures proper monitoring and addressing of emissions across these value chains,” Van der Straeten said.

Operators will have to measure methane emissions at source level and draw up monitoring reports that will be checked by independent accredited verifiers.

EU member states will maintain and regularly update an inventory of all wells, as well as mitigation plans for inactive wells, in order to prevent any public health and environmental risks from methane emissions.

They will also measure and monitor emissions from coalmines which have been closed or abandoned for less than 70 years, since methane continues to be released even when production is halted.

National authorities will carry out periodic inspections to check and ensure operators’ compliance with the requirements of the regulation, including the taking of follow-up remedial measures.

Under the new rules, operators will have to detect and repair methane leaks. Operators will need to carry out surveys of methane leaks in different types of infrastructures at set intervals.

Operators will then need to repair or replace all components above certain methane leak levels immediately after detection, and no later than five days thereafter. The set deadline for a full repair under the new rules is 30 days.

In addition, the regulation bans venting and flaring methane from drainage stations by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027, unless it is strictly necessary or the event of an emergency or malfunction.

Methane emissions from the EU’s energy imports will also be traced. The new rules will introduce global monitoring tools to increase the transparency of methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU.

The regulation will enter into force on the 20th day following publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The European Commission will review the application of the regulation in 2028, including the level of emissions reduction achieved.

In another decision on May 27, the Council of the EU adopted a regulation on establishing a framework of measures for strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology manufacturing ecosystem, better known as the “net-zero industry act”.

The regulation aims to boost the industrial deployment of net-zero technologies that are needed to achieve the EU’s climate goals, using the strength of the single market to reinforce Europe’s position as a leader in industrial green technologies.

Progress towards the objectives of the net-zero industry act will be measured by two indicative benchmarks. Firstly, manufacturing capacity of net-zero technologies, such as solar photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, batteries and heat pumps, reaching 40 per cent of the EU’s deployment needs.

Secondly, a specific target for an increased Union share for these technologies with a view to reaching 15 per cent of world production by 2040.

In addition, the net-zero industry act sets up an annual injection capacity of at least 50 million tonnes of CO2 to be achieved by 2030 in geological storage sites in the territory of the EU.

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