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Provisional agreement on the reduction of methane emissions

The European Commission welcomed the provisional agreement reached on 15 November 2023 between the European Parliament and Council on a new EU Regulation to reduce energy sector methane emissions in Europe and in our global supply chains. According to the proposal, fossil gas, oil and coal industries shall properly measure, monitor, report and verify their methane emissions according to the highest monitoring standards, and take action to reduce them. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its overall contribution to climate change. The most recent IPCC report outlines that methane levels are at an all-time high and well above the emission levels compatible with the 1.5°C goal set in the Paris Agreement.

The new regulation aims to stop the avoidable release of methane into the atmosphere and to minimise leaks of methane by fossil energy companies operating in the EU. The regulation would require operators to report regularly to the competent authorities about quantification and measurements of methane emissions at the source level, including for non-operated assets. For oil and gas, companies would need to frequently survey their equipment to detect leaks. If found, they would need to be repaired immediately, within specific deadlines and monitored to ensure that repairs were successful. The regulation would also ban venting and routine flaring, allowing venting only in exceptional or unavoidable circumstances for safety reasons. It would also require companies in the oil, gas and coal sectors to carry out an inventory of closed, inactive, plugged and abandoned assets to monitor their emissions and to adopt a plan to mitigate these emissions as soon as possible. Since the EU imports a large share of the oil, gas and coal it consumes, the regulation also aims to manage the methane emissions related to these imports.

The proposal requires formal adoption by both the European Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and would enter into force 20 days later.