An empty methane declaration will not help to phase out fossil fuels
- The pledge has no legally binding effects, and it introduces nothing new to the current EU commitments in the Methane Regulation Proposal – under discussion at the European Parliament and Council level.
- The EU needs to regulate oil and gas imports to tackle methane emissions
Brussels-Sharm-el-Sheikh, 11 November 2022 – Today the EU and U.S. presented at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt) a joint declaration to reduce greenhouse gases, particularly methane emissions, from the main oil and fossil gas importing and exporting countries. The declaration, presented a year after the official launch of the Global Methane Pledge during the COP26 in Glasgow, introduces nothing new to current commitments from the US and the EU while diverting focus from what they should do to tackle methane emissions: to regulate oil and gas imports.
While the intention looks laudable on paper, the declaration is a toothless tool in practice. It aims to build a coalition of major global fossil fuels importers and exporters so as to support domestic actions to cut methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions along the fossil energy value chain through robust measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification initiatives. However, the text has no legally binding effects, and doesn’t bring anything new. In particular, the EU is not taking any further commitments beyond what is already included in the Methane Regulation Proposal, which is under discussion at the European Parliament and Council.
As the EU is among the world’s largest importers of fossil fuels, it needs to be an ambitious global standard-setter and implement stringent measures to cut methane emissions from energy imports. Between 75-90% of the methane emissions caused by the EU fossil fuel consumption occur in the supply chain. This joint declaration cannot be an excuse to refrain from effectively addressing those emissions in the Methane Regulation.
The findings of a new legal report commissioned by CAN Europe show that it is legally possible to extend the scope of the Methane Regulation to operators outside the EU that export fossil fuels entering the EU market. This means applying the EU domestic provisions on Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV), Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) and Limits on Routine Venting and Flaring (LRVF) to all energy imports, and requiring importers to only source oil and gas from countries and companies meeting those standards. Instead of creating more lock-in scenarios, especially in more vulnerable countries, the EU needs to use its buying power to move exporters to adopt standards on methane emissions, which are still unregulated in large parts of the world.
Against the current attempts of some Member States in the Council to water down the Methane Regulation proposal, the European Parliament must include strong measures on energy imports to incentivize changes also at the international level. Vague international commitments or voluntary private sector solutions are insufficient given that methane emissions are still rising and heat up the climate over 80 times faster than CO2 over 20 years.
The non-binding declaration is not ambitious enough to effectively cut methane emissions from the fossil fuels supply chain and slow down the climate catastrophe in the short term. In the long term, the only answer to the climate crisis is to phase out fossil fuels including fossil gas by 2035 and embark on a transition to 100% renewable energy. The way that some countries and the EU exploit the ongoing COP27 by pitching fossil gas and hydrogen as a transition fuel is completely out of step with reality and science. If this new initiative ends up legitimizing and prolonging future fossil fuel consumption it will have done the climate more harm than good.
Enrico Donda, Gas Campaigner, Food & Water Action Europe (FWAE), [email protected], +32 485 187 523
Julian Schwartzkopff, Senior Expert, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, [email protected], +49 30 2400867-963
Doruntina Basha, Communications Coordinator, CAN Europe, [email protected]
Nina Tramullas, Interim Head of Communications, CAN Europe, [email protected], +34 676 030 140 (in Sharm-el-Sheikh)