The EU Commission has adopted a new strategy as part of the European Green Deal aimed at reducing methane emissions.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the second biggest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, as well as a local air pollutant that can cause serious health problems.
Tackling it is therefore essential to reaching the EU’s 2030 and 2050 climate targets as well as contributing to the Commission’s zero pollution ambition.
The strategy sets out measures to reduce methane emissions in Europe and internationally, including legislative and non-legislative actions in the energy, agriculture and waste sectors, which account for around 95% of methane emissions associated with human activity worldwide.
One of the priorities is to improve measurement and reporting of methane emissions, as the level of monitoring currently varies between sectors and member states and across the international community.
To reduce methane emissions in the energy industry, an obligation to improve detection and repair of leaks in gas infrastructure will be proposed and legislation to prohibit routine flaring and venting practices will be considered.
The Commission will also improve reporting of emissions from agriculture through better data collection and promote opportunities to reduce emissions with support from the Common Agricultural Policy, with the main focus on best practice sharing for innovative methane-reducing technologies, animal diets and breeding management.
In the waste sector, the Commission is planning further action to improve the management of landfill gas, harnessing its potential for energy use while reducing emissions – and will review the relevant legislation on landfill in 2024.
It will also consider proposing further research on waste to biomethane technologies.
In addition, the Commission will support the establishment of an international methane emission observatory in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the International Energy Agency.
The EU’s Copernicus satellite programme will also improve surveillance and help to detect global super-emitters and identify major methane leaks.
Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said: “We have adopted today our first strategy to tackle methane emissions since 1996. While the energy, agriculture and waste sectors all have a role to play, energy is where emissions can be cut the quickest with least costs.
“Europe will lead the way but we cannot do this alone. We need to work with our international partners to address the methane emissions of the energy we import.”