The European Energy Policy tackles Methane. Second largest contributor to climate change according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. It is also an air pollutant that causes serious health problems for local populations. About 95% of this gas is produced by human activities.
To meet the climate targets of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050, the commission has developed a new strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Frans Timmermans has been appointed Vice President and General Manager of the project.
“To become the first climate-neutral continent, the European Union will have to reduce all greenhouse gases. Our methane strategy ensures emission reductions in all sectors, in particular agriculture, energy and waste. It also creates opportunities for rural areas to produce biogas from waste. The EU’s satellite technology will allow us to closely monitor emissions and help raise international standards.”
European energy policy or how the “Green Deal” will affect methane
The commission published its strategy on Wednesday 14 October. The law does not set limits on methane emissions from fossil fuels, but sets the stage for this to happen starting in 2025. The European Union has nevertheless put in place numerous legislative and non-legislative actions.
“The commission will bring forward legislative proposals in 2021 on mandatory measurement, reporting and verification for all energy-related methane emissions and on requiring improved leak detection and repair on all fossil gas infrastructure.”
Improving the measurement and reporting of methane emissions in line with European energy policy
In order to harmonize monitoring at the European and international levels, the European Union wishes to create an international observatory for methane emissions. This project will be in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the International Energy Agency. In addition, the European Union would like to raise the methane control to level 3. This implies more demanding specific and individual measures. This provision is supported by the company Eurogas and the environmental fund.
The European Union’s Copernicus satellite program will improve monitoring and help detect global super-emitters and identify major methane leaks.
Obligation to detect and repair leaks in gas infrastructures
Flaring and aeration practices will also be considered. For this, the commission will work with the international partners of the European Union and the various companies.
The European energy policy will also link its commission to its common agricultural policy to enable better collection and reporting of emissions from agriculture. Innovative methane reduction, feed and livestock management technologies will allow the project to move forward.
Encouraged waste collection
To generate more returns and avoid methane emissions, farmers are encouraged to use non-recyclable human and agricultural organic waste and residues to produce biogas and biochemicals. The commission also wants to revisit landfilling in 2024.
A European energy policy to influence the international community
As the European Union is a major importer of gas, these standards could have a significant impact on its main suppliers: Russia and Norway.
“The commission will consider methane emission reduction targets, standards or other incentives for fossil energy consumed and imported into the European Union in the absence of meaningful commitments from international partners.”
But for the commission this project will encourage international action, while the continent produces only 5% of global methane emissions.
European energy policy takes late action for environmentalists
According to EDF member Poppy kalesi, for EURACTIV, these measures come too late and this strategy will not meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Delaying it by 2024 or 2025 means we won’t essentially expect emissions reductions until 2030 and that’s too late.”
The Environmental Defense Fund, the Green Political Party, and some companies like BP and Shell have called for strong legislation to reduce methane emissions by 2023. The latter have voluntarily set targets, including becoming emission neutral by 2050. Jutta Paulus, member of the Green Party said:
“The European Commission is only scratching the surface and limiting itself to minor issues like methane leakage plugging and statistics. Counting emissions doesn’t help when the agenda is to reduce them.”