Climate Action

European Council gives final green light to cut methane emissions in the energy sector

The European Council has adopted a regulation on tracking and reducing methane emissions as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package.

  • 28 May 2024
  • Press Release

The European Council has adopted a regulation on tracking and reducing methane emissions as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package.

The regulation introduces new requirements on measuring, reporting and verifying methane emissions in the energy sector.  It follows on from the strategic vision set out in the EU methane strategy in 2020 and is part of the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package, which aims to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050.

Mitigation measures, such as detecting and repairing methane leaks and limiting venting and flaring, will aim to avoid methane emissions. Global monitoring tools will ensure transparency on methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU. Operators will have to measure methane emissions at source level and draw up monitoring reports that will be checked by independent accredited verifiers.

Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Minister for Energy, said: "Methane, a short-lived climate pollutant up to 30 times more potent than CO2, is the second most important greenhouse gas. To meet the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieving climate neutrality by 2050, we must cut methane emissions in the oil, gas, and coal sectors. This legislation ensures proper monitoring and addressing of emissions across these value chains."

Member states will maintain and regularly update an inventory of all wells, as well as mitigation plans for inactive wells, in order to prevent any public health and environmental risks from methane emissions. They will also measure and monitor emissions from coalmines which have been closed or abandoned for less than 70 years, since methane continues to be released even when production is halted.

National authorities will carry out periodic inspections to check and ensure operators' compliance with the requirements of the regulation, including the taking of follow-up remedial measures.

Under the new rules, operators will have to detect and repair methane leaks. Operators will need to carry out surveys of methane leaks in different types of infrastructures at set intervals.

Operators will then need to repair or replace all components above certain methane leak levels immediately after detection, and no later than five days thereafter. The set deadline for a full repair under the new rules is 30 days.

In addition, the regulation bans venting and flaring methane from drainage stations by 2025 and from ventilation shafts by 2027, unless it is strictly necessary or the event of an emergency or malfunction.

Methane emissions from the EU’s energy imports will also be traced. The new rules will introduce global monitoring tools to increase the transparency of methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU.

The regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day following publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The Commission will review the application of the regulation in 2028, including the level of emissions reduction achieved.

Find out more here.