EU lawmakers overcome challenge aimed at weakening tough methane rules

European lawmakers supported tough new measures for tackling methane leaks in the energy sector, overcoming a last-minute challenge to water them down.

The European Parliament voted in favour of a position agreed last month at committee level to force importers to cut methane leaks from their supply chains, long a major source of emissions from the oil and gas industries. It will now enter into difficult talks with member states — which are pushing for weaker rules on curbing emissions — over the final shape of the regulation.

EU lawmakers also backed a call for the European Commission to set a 2030 methane-reduction target.

It “sends a strong signal on the direction Europe must go, especially as we move to the next stage of the process,” said Jonathan Banks, global director of methane pollution prevention at non-profit CATF. “To regain Europe’s leadership on climate and to drive change globally, it will be imperative that Parliament’s position is adopted.”

The vote followed a last-minute push by Cristian Busoi, a member of the centre-right European People’s Party and chair of the industry committee, to weaken key elements of the deal. That included making inspections of energy infrastructure for methane leaks less frequent, as well as lowering the threshold for importers to meet similar requirements.

None of his amendments achieved a majority.

The EU is a signatory to the Global Methane Pledge, an international commitment to slash methane emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade, while most of its footprint comes from fossil fuels produced outside of the bloc.

“Without ambitious measures to reduce methane emissions, Europe will miss its climate targets and valuable energy will continue to be wasted,” said Jutta Paulus, the green lawmaker overseeing the file. “As Europe imports more than 80 per cent of the fossil fuels it burns, [it] is essential to expand the scope to energy imports.”

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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