EU Law Sets Gas Imports Methane Cap

Last updated: May 29, 2024

The European Union has passed a law aimed at limiting methane emissions from the 2030s. The new measure also has geopolitical significance with Russia expected to be among the nations most affected.

This law will affect natural gas imports especially. Natural gas, commonly used to heat homes in the UK with boiler-based systems, largely utilises methane along with other alkanes.

According to the Council of the European Union, the bloc’s top gas suppliers in 2023 included Norway, the United States, Russia, the UK and Qatar.

This law will affect both imports to the continent and energy generation within the EU. Per the European Commission, the new rules will gradually introduce stronger and stronger obligations for exporters. These will eventually match the requirements first placed on EU-based energy producers.

The EU’s green energy goals have included 42.5% energy production being renewable-based by 2030.

Reuters has reported that all EU members approved of the new law with the exception of Hungary. It will now be up to the European Commission to establish the specifics of the methane cap before 2030.

The law will place an imperative on the European fossil gas, oil and coal industry to keep track of methane emissions and ensure they adhere to the new standards. Failure to stick with the new regulation could result in a financial penalty for the guilty party.

The United Kingdom continues to eye a goal of carbon net zero by 2050. The UK also signed up for the Global Methane Pledge at COP26 in autumn 2021.

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This pledge involved the aim for a collective reduction in methane emissions of 30% among the signatory nations by 2030. More than 120 nations would go on to sign up for the pledge.

According to the UNECE, methane comes with a 100-year global warming potential that is approximately 28x to 34x times more potent than CO2. While methane accounts for only 16% of total emissions, its warming potential has made it a focal point of climate policy in the 21st century.