EU Methane Regulation – the lack of ambition will fail climate goals


Fossil Fuels

BRUSSELS: Methane emissions resulting from the petrochemical industry’s extraction and production of coal, gas and oil are responsible for 25 per cent of overall global warming – but a new Methane Regulation unveiled today by the European Commission is a half-hearted step back from EU climate goals.

Campaigners from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Brussels- based Food & Water Action Europe (FWAE) and Berlin-based Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) warned the Regulation is letting fossil fuel imports off the hook.

Methane emissions are 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide and tackling the energy sector has been identified as the most cost effective way of reducing them.

The Commission’s Regulation puts in place a framework with obligations on measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), leak detection and repair (LDAR) and a ban on routine venting and flaring (BRVF) of gases, which are the three main pillars of effective methane emissions mitigation.

Despite numerous calls from European policymakers and recommendations from leading NGOs, the Regulation lacks a key element – extending the framework to all oil, gas and coal consumed in the EU, imports included, and to the petrochemical sector.

The EU imports more than 80 per cent of the fossil gas, 90 per cent of the crude oil and 40 per cent of the coal it consumes, long after methane has been emitted outside EU borders.

EIA Climate Campaigner Kim O’Dowd said: “The Commission is hiding behind excuses. With this regulation, the EU will continue to drive global methane emissions in other countries, turning a blind eye to its role.

“In the context of the Global Methane Pledge to take action on these emissions –launched and adopted by the US, EU and others at the UN CoP26 climate change summit in November – the EU should be irreproachable, but this proposal sends completely the wrong message, effectively saying it’s okay for the EU and other countries to pledge and pontificate at the podium and then dally and dither at home.”

Any methane reduction initiative not linked to a phase-out of fossil fuels falls dangerously short of the necessary climate action. In October, MEPs asked, in a resolution on the EU strategy to reduce methane emissions, to phase-out all fossil fuels as soon as possible, but today’s proposal ignores the Parliament’s position.

As a major importer of fossil gas and oil, the EU must work on cutting methane emissions along the whole supply chain and, in the meantime, implement phase-out plans to get rid of oil, fossil gas and coal.

There is no way the EU can cut methane emissions fast enough and promote a sustainable energy transition while still investing in climate-harming fossil fuels.

Fossil gas consists almost entirely of methane, pollutes air and water with numerous hazardous substances and contributes to environmental destruction on top of inherently leading to methane emissions. While cutting methane emissions is important to reduce the climate impact of fossil fuels, it risks being used to support false sustainability claims by the oil and gas companies.

Food & Water Action Europe Campaigner Enrico Donda said: “Fossil gas, even with reduced methane emissions, is neither clean nor a ‘bridge fuel’ and the Commission proposal fails to make this clear. All gas infrastructure is prone to leaks and a serious methane law should stop the development of new fossil gas infrastructure such as pipelines and LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) terminals, used to reception and unload gas from the cargo shipped mainly from the US, Qatar and Russia”.

The European Parliament must now protect the ambition it showed in its own initiative report on the Methane Strategy, which called for extending the framework across the supply chain and to the petrochemical sector.

Members of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union now have the opportunity to improve the proposal.

Pictures. Monday 13 Dec, local anti-gas activists TegenGas and the Gastivists Collective projected slogans and infrared images of methane leakage from around Europe to criticize the lack of ambition in EU methane Regulation. More high-quality images here:


  • Tim Grabiel, EIA Senior Lawyer, timgrabiel[at]
  • Enrico Donda, FWAE Gas Campaigner, edonda[at]
  • Paul Newman, EIA Senior Press & Communications Officer, press[at]
  • Neal Huddon-Cossar, [email protected], +39 345 44 70 749



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.
  2. Food & Water Action Europe (FWAE) is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a non-profit organisation based in the US. FWAE works to create a healthy future for generations to come – a world where all people have the resources they need, including wholesome food, clean water and sustainable energy. We campaign for a 100 per cent sustainable energy transition, this implies ending EU and national fossil fuels subsidies and drastically cutting GHG emissions. This requires organising people from all over the world to engaging in a large movement with the political power to make our democratic process work for us all.
  3. Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.- DUH) was founded in 1975. The organisation is politically independent, recognised as a non-profit organisation, entitled to bring legal action and it campaigns mainly on a national and European level. Environmental Action Germany supports all sustainable ways of life and economic systems that respect ecological boundaries. At the same time, the organisation fights for the preservation of biological diversity and the protection of natural assets as well as for climate protection. DUH is convinced that only energy supplies based on efficiency and regenerative energies, sustainable mobility, the respectful handling of our natural resources and the avoidance of waste will secure life on our planet.

Open Letter: Europe needs more farmers



Brussels, 16 April 2021

Today, a joint letter to the European Commission, launched by European Coordination Via Campesina and signed by Food & Water Action Europe, together with farmers’ organisations, environmental organisations, NGOs, unions, and researchers, underlines the key role of small and medium-sized farmers in the resolution of current social, environmental, and food-related crises. It demands that EU policy in this pivotal moment must support and increase the number of small-scale farmers.

This letter marks the week of 17 April, International Day of Peasant Struggles. On this day, we commemorate the massacre of 21 landless peasants in 1996 in Eldorado dos Carajás, Brazil, while demonstrating in support of comprehensive agrarian reform.

You can see the full letter and list of signatories here. 

GM Crops: Science Is About Questions, Not “Consensus”



Brussels — Food & Water Europe’s damning critique of the so-called scientific “consensus” surrounding GM food and crops, published today, exposes the biotech industry’s role in massaging facts to support its products. The report is published while the EU Parliament and Council are locked in negotiations trying to overcome deep disagreement on so-called “opt-outs” (national or regional bans) for GM crops.

Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said, “The fact that such a vigorous debate continues over the so-called ‘consensus’ on GMO safety is evidence enough that no consensus exists. Rather than chasing ‘consensus’, the real conversation that scientists and the public should be having — in academic journals, in the media and in Parliaments — is whether or not GMOs are safe.”

The So-Called Scientific “Consensus”: Why the debate on GMOs is not over (available at the link below), shows how pro-GM vested interests cherry pick information and manipulate quotes from scientific bodies like the World Health Organisation and the Royal Society of London to promote their alleged consensus. The briefing also points out that neither scientific institutions, the scientific literature nor independent scientists support the “consensus” claim.

Food & Water Europe’s EU Food Policy Advisor Eve Mitchell said, “GMO boosters are working so hard to distract the public from the real questions hanging over GM food and crops – that’s par for the course. The biotech industry has long used its financial might and political power to distort the public discourse — and even the science — surrounding GMOs.

“We want to ensure the public has access to all the facts so we can make the best decisions. For starters there are zero peer-reviewed studies of the epidemiology of GMO consumption, so any claims GMOs are safe to eat in the long-term are based in hope, not science. People need to know that.”

The organisation also points to the hundreds of scientists who called the “consensus” bogus, citing:

  • Limited animal feeding trials have been conducted on GMOs; several show or suggest toxic effects.
  • The biotechnology industry is  responsible for most of the available feeding trials showing that genetically engineered crops are safe and nutritious; an equal number of research groups working on feeding trials have expressed “serious concerns” over safety.
  • There is evidence of environmental safety issues, including adverse, unintended impacts on non-target organisms and the promotion of resistant weeds.
  • There is evidence of possible adverse human and animal health effects from exposure to Roundup, the herbicide used on the majority of GMO crops.
  • Several international agreements acknowledge safety issues with GMOs.

Mitchell added, “There are many grave risks here, but there is no liability regime to hold the biotech industry responsible if anything goes wrong with their GMOs. At the very least we need to heed what the evidence is telling us and take more care. Given what we know already, there has never been a better case for saying ‘better safe than sorry’.”

Contact: Eve Mitchell, EU Food Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe +44 (0)1381 610 740 or emitchell(at)fweurope(dot)org

Food & Water Europe’s briefing The So-Called Scientific “Consensus”: Why the debate on GMOs is not over is available in English and in Spanish.

Español: El Falso “Consenso Científico”: El Debate en Torno a los Transgénicos no ha Terminado


Common Resources

Learn More in the Report

Las empresas de biotecnología agraria, junto a sus partidarios del mundo académico y la blogosfera, están usando todos sus recursos para difundirel mito de que existe “consenso científico” en torno a la seguridad de los cultivos y alimentos trangénicos. Afirman que con los datos disponsibles, el debate está terminado. Esta campaña de relaciones públicas, con la ayuda de grupos financiados por la industria, ha calado en importantes medios de comunicación donde se retratan las voces críticas con los transgénicos como completamente ajenas a la ciencia, como a los negacionistas del cambio climático. 


Commission’s pie-in-the-sky thinking for ‘abundant’ energy supplies is a bad starting point to reduce the EU’s import dependency.



Brussels – The Energy Security Communication, adopted this morning by the European Commission, fails to articulate an ambitious, long-term strategy to reduce the EU’s growing import dependency – in particular for natural gas – because the no-regret option of reducing energy demand is not at the core of this strategy. About 40% of the EU’s gas consumption is used to heat and cool buildings. Yet, the Communication offers no in-depth plan to reduce gas consumption in key sectors such as buildings, industry, transport and power by means of renewables and energy efficiency. Rather, the Commission’s main focus is switching from Russia to other suppliers of gas in the hope of finding “abundant supply of energy”. Food & Water Europe fails to see how recent discoveries of potential offshore oil and gas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, pipeline gas from Azerbaijan, fracked gas from the US, LNG exports from Algeria, Libya, etc. will strengthen the reliability of gas supplies to EU consumers and business at an affordable price.

 “It is baffling that the European Commission prioritizes highly uncertain supplies of gas from autocratic regimes like Azerbaijan, LNG exports from the United States or large-scale fracking in the EU in a strategy that seeks to improve the reliability of gas supplies to the EU”, said Food & Water Europe Director Geert De Cock. “Rather than looking for non-existent ‘abundant’ energy supplies, the Commission should have recognized that energy is and will remain scarce for the foreseeable future and that demand reduction for natural gas is the only no-regret option for the EU”.

About 40% of the EU’s annual gas consumption is used for the heating and cooling of buildings. Investing in renovations of existing building stock and renewable heating & cooling solutions are no-regret options, contribute to climate ambitions, support EU industries and create jobs in the EU. Sadly, these options remain underexplored. By all but ignoring this fact, the European Commission has made it impossible to come up with meaningful and cost-effective answers on the EU’s growing import dependency in the long term.

Contact: Geert Decock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at) 

EU Commissioner Oettinger should give up his selective hearing in discussions on an EU Energy Security Strategy



Brussels – With the growing concern about the reliability of Russian gas supplies to the EU in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, Energy Commissioner Oettinger has consistently prioritised the voices of the fossil fuel industry in discussions on the EU’s European Energy Security Strategy. On May 5, Commissioner Oettinger hosted an “EU Energy Security Conference”, inviting only the up-, mid and downstream oil & gas industry to share their views. Representatives of the renewables and energy efficiency industries were not invited. Neither were representatives of civil society groups. In doing so, Commissioner Oettinger goes against the letter and the spirit of the European Council conclusions, which expressly state that “[m]oderating energy demand through enhanced energy efficiency should be the first step, which will also contribute to other energy and climate objectives”. Food & Water Europe fails to see how an exclusive focus on the EU’s oil and gas sector will deliver clean, secure and affordable energy to EU citizens and business. Moreover, promoting a bigger and more diverse gas supply – with more pipelines, LNG terminals and shale gas – risks locking the EU into a continued reliance on fossil fuels, particularly at a time of sagging gas demand. More renewables and energy efficiency, particularly in the heating & cooling sector, must be at the core of any strategy to reduce the EU’s import dependency.

“Import dependency depends on two variables, supply and demand. Steering the debate towards a focus on the supply-side only serves the corporate agenda of Big Oil & Gas”, said Food & Water Europe Director Geert De Cock. “Commissioner Oettinger is completely ignoring solutions that would reduce the demand for natural gas in the EU”.

About 40% of the EU’s annual gas consumption is used for the heating and cooling of buildings. By ignoring this fact, the European Commission has made it impossible to come up with meaningful and cost-effective answers on the EU’s growing import dependency in the long term.

An ambitious energy efficiency target of 40% for 2030 – as called for by the European Parliament – will result in a ~ 20% drop in annual gas consumption. Increased use of renewables, particularly in the heating & cooling sector, could further reduce the EU’s reliance on gas imports by another ~ 10%. Another 8-15% in additional gas savings can be expected from electricity savings, if renewables continue to increase their share in the energy mix. In conclusion, investing in renewables and energy efficiency can generate gas savings of ~ 40%, exceeding all gas imports from Russia. Such a strategy will also have added benefits in terms of climate targets, developing cutting edge-technology and jobs.

For Food & Water Europe, reducing the EU’s gas consumption is a more realistic and cost-effective strategy than replacing gas supplies from Russia with alternative supplies of gas, be it Norway, new pipelines, more LNG or domestic shale gas production. Developing these alternative supplies of gas will be extremely difficult and time-consuming, fail to address security of supply concerns and come at great expense. 

Contact: Geert Decock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)