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MEPs Approve Methane Report – Highlighting Dangers of Fracking and Need to Phase Out Fossil Fuels

Today, the European Parliament adopted its own-initiative report on an EU methane strategy, which calls for regulatory measures and clear targets to reduce methane emissions across all sectors in line with the Paris Agreement. But the report falls short in several key areas.

While MEPs highlight in the report that “fossil fuels have no long-term role in the Union’s energy mix”, it is missing a clear deadline for a phase-out. Considering that the EU imports more than 80% of the oil and gas it consumes, the upcoming rules have to cover the whole supply chain in both the energy and petrochemical sectors. MEPs backed measures across the supply chain, but failed to stress that we have to implement those measures immediately

“Decision-makers must ensure that methane mitigation is not abused as an opportunity for greenwashing practices by oil and gas companies. Reducing methane emissions can bring real climate benefits in the short-term, but it must happen within a clear time frame to phase-out fossil gas, consisting mainly of methane, by 2035,” said Enrico Donda, gas campaigner at Food & Water Action Europe.

Another concern arises on who would pay for tackling emissions. The position of the Parliament affirms that investments undertaken by infrastructure operators “should be recognised within the scope of regulated activities”. Once activities are recognised as “regulated” their costs can be passed on via gas tariffs to consumers. The risk is therefore that an increase in gas tariffs will lead to an additional burden to low-income households.

“With raging gas prices across the EU exacerbating energy precarity, measures to reduce methane must fully reflect the polluter pays principle. It would be cynical towards consumers to subsidise activities to fix and detect leaks while fossil fuel companies can sell more gas and wrongly claim it is ‘sustainable’ or ‘clean’”, continued Enrico Donda.    

The Parliament report takes a sufficiently bold approach on other occasions. MEPs reiterate that the EU should not authorize “new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU and to halt all existing operations” (1). It also rightfully calls production and transport of liquefied fossil gas (LNG) “extremely inefficient”.

By the end of this year, the EU Commission will present legislative proposals on measures to tackle methane emissions. These will include mandatory monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), leak detection and repair (LDAR) programmes and measures on routine venting and flaring (RVF).

The EU Parliament position on methane raises key points that the Commission should consider when dealing with this climate-wrecking greenhouse gas, such as a clear reference to cooperate with Member States to phase-out all fossil fuels, a halt to fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure expansion and the link to the petrochemical sector. 

Notes to the editor:

  1. An increasing amount of fossil gas is imported into Europe from the US, a majority of which is extracted via hydraulic fracturing. In Q2 2021, all LNG imports amounted to 24 bcm, with the US being the biggest supplier of LNG to Europe. The European Commission gas market report is available at 

https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/default/files/quarterly_report_on_european_gas_markets_q2_2021_final.pdf

 

  • The text adopted today by the EU Parliament is an own initiative report by MEP Maria Spyraki (EPP, Greece) – please note that for the section on agriculture  some changes have been proposed by MEPs 
  • Agriculture and energy sectors are the major sources of human-driven methane emissions, accounting respectively to almost 50% and 19% of total EU emissions, according to the EU Commission. Note that these percentages may not be accurate since there is no constant monitoring and the EU Commission relies on outdated data. The EU Commission proposal expected by the end of this year in the context of the second wave of the fit-for-55 package will focus on energy-related methane emissions. 
  • Methane (CH4) is a short-lived greenhouse gas, which has an atmospheric lifetime of about 12 years. It is 86 times more climate polluting than CO2 over a 20-year period.