EU policymakers have proposed legislation to regulate direct methane emissions from oil, gas, coal, and biomethane. The proposed legislation includes requiring oil and gas operators to report their emissions, to check for methane leaks every three months, and to repair leaks within five days. It also bans certain methane releasing practices such as venting and flaring. The proposal, however, doesn’t target methane emissions from imported oil and gas.
The steps taken to regulate methane were expected given the increased focus and pledges made on methane during COP26. The proposed regulations will lead to a decrease in methane emissions in the methane that would have been produced in the EU. However, the proposal doesn’t target methane emissions associated with oil and gas imported to the EU. Given that the EU imports most of its oil and gas, the proposed regulations fail to target the majority of Europe’s methane footprint. Does the EU have the energy security and bargaining power to extend the regulations on methane emissions to include imported oil and gas? Or will the bulk of methane emissions continue unabated until there is a massive shift in the EU’s energy portfolio away from dependence on oil-rich states such as Russia?