Lawmakers urged the European Commission on Tuesday (28 September) to propose binding measures and targets to reduce methane emissions by 2030.
In a report voted in the European Parliament’s environment committee, MEPs called on the Commission to propose a new law to significantly reduce methane emissions across all sectors in order to remain in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The report was adopted by 61 votes in favour, 10 against and 7 abstentions.
“By setting binding methane reduction targets, the EU can play a key role to get the rest of the world to do the same,” said Maria Spyraki, a Greek centre-right MEP who is the lead author of the report.
Lawmakers also called for mandatory monitoring, reporting and verification for all methane emitting sectors alongside mandatory leak detection and repair programmes that would cover the full supply chain in energy and petrochemical sectors.
The vote was hailed by campaigners as “an important step” towards the reduction of methane pollution across the European Union. “Once adopted by the full Parliament, [it] will send a clear signal to the Commission on the need for strong action on methane,” said Jonathan Banks, international director at the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group.
Methane is the second most damaging greenhouse gas after CO2 and accounts for around 10% of Europe’s emissions. It has higher heat-trapping potential than CO2 but it breaks down in the atmosphere faster, meaning action on methane can produce quick results.
“With the catastrophic effects of this summer’s unprecedented floods [and] wildfires still being assessed, we need to intensify our efforts to tackle the challenges posed by extreme weather conditions,” said Spyraki.
“We need a quick win to tackle climate change! We need to act immediately and we need to achieve concrete results on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to protect our people and the planet today and in the future,” she added.
Lawmakers also called for a binding global agreement on methane at the COP26 climate summit in November. Many countries, like China, Russia and the US, emit far more methane than the EU and these emissions will need to be curbed if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]