EU, US urge others to join methane reduction pledge

Oil storage facility operated by Rohöl Aufsuchungs AG (RAG) in Austria. The facility was found to be leaking methane by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit group. [Clean Air Task Force / YouTube]

The European Union and the United States on Saturday (18 September) called on more nations to join a pledge to slash methane gas emissions and cut warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050.

The initiative – unveiled by President Joe Biden on Friday – means countries would commit to a collective goal of reducing emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

“Important step taken with President Biden towards a Global Methane Pledge,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

“We will reach out to global partners to bring as many as possible on board for tackling methane emissions.”

A joint statement from the EU and US said that Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, and the United Kingdom had “already indicated their support” for the pledge.

The initiative is set to be formally launched at the major COP26 summit organised by the United Nations in Glasgow, Scotland in November.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and, according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era,” the statement said.

“Rapidly reducing methane emissions is complementary to action on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to reduce global warming in the near term and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.”

EU rules coming up

The European Commission put energy companies on notice last October that it would target them with new rules on gas leaks and was also considering restrictions on venting or flaring of methane.

The new rules are expected to be published in December, as part of EU plans to slash global warming emissions by at least 55% before the end of the decade.

EU Commission paves way for regulating methane emissions in 2021

The European Commission has opted for a “holistic” approach to address the global warming impact of methane, putting the emphasis on international cooperation first before regulating emissions in sectors like energy and agriculture.

Major oil and gas companies like Shell have already set targets to reduce methane emissions intensity and have called on EU policymakers to set “strong methane regulations” to repair leaks and cut emissions.

Last week, a group of global energy companies, including Shell, Equinor and ExxonMobil, teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US-based pressure group, to demand mandatory EU rules on methane encompassing the entire gas value chain, including imports from abroad

The policy proposals call for mandatory requirements to monitor, report and verify methane emissions – with an emphasis on data transparency. They also focus on obligations to detect and repair leaks, new provisions for flaring and venting, and biogas as an opportunity to decarbonise the wider gas system.

EU methane rules must cover the entire gas supply chain, including imports

A group of environmental organisations and global energy companies, including Shell, have called for mandatory EU rules on methane encompassing the entire gas value chain, including imports from abroad, writes Maarten Wetselaar.


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