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EU Drafts Provisional Rules to Cut Methane Emissions in Energy Sector

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By Fabiana Negrin Ochoa

The European Union has taken a step toward curbing methane emissions, agreeing on new rules aimed at cutting the amounts of the potent greenhouse gas produced in the energy sector.

The EU Council and Parliament reached a provisional deal early Wednesday on regulation to track and reduce emissions of methane, thought to be responsible for a third of current global warming, the council said in a statement.

The rules would require oil, gas and coal companies to measure, report and verify methane emissions, the statement said. They would also need to have mitigation measures in place to avoid emissions. Implementation would be phased, with operators submitting reports quantifying emissions within specific time frames once the regulations take effect.

The measures also take aim at finding and repairing sources of methane leaks and other unintentional emissions, and ensuring that plugged or inactive wells aren’t contributing to the problem.

Authorities will carry out periodic checks to verify compliance, the statement said.

Imports of fossil fuels into the EU also fall under the scope of the new regulations. Exporters would need to comply with monitoring, reporting and verification measures by Jan. 1, 2027, and maximum methane intensity values by 2030.

The next step for the new rules: being endorsed and formally adopted by the council and parliament.

Curbing methane emissions is a key part of a legislative package to implement the European Green Deal, aimed at reaching climate neutrality by 2050. A climate-neutral economy is one with net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions.

According to the International Energy Agency, oil, gas and coal-mining operations release large amounts of the potent greenhouse gas, either by accident or design. It estimates that the energy sector is responsible for nearly 40% of total methane emissions attributable to human activity, second only to agriculture.

Write to Fabiana Negrin Ochoa at fabiana.negrinochoa@wsj.com

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