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EU Parliament moves to reduce methane emissions in energy sector

Members of European Parliament participate in a series of votes as they attend a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels - AFP
11 Apr 2024 16:04

Brussels (DPA) - The European Parliament has given the green light for a new EU law to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector. A majority of MEPs in Brussels voted in favour of the regulations on Wednesday, which will mean stricter rules for the oil, gas and coal industries. 

In November, parliamentary negotiators agreed with their counterparts from the EU member states on the corresponding law.

According to this, operators of oil and gas plants will be required to search for and regularly repair major methane leaks in future. In coal mining, methane emissions are to be measured and reported. In addition, venting or flaring, which releases methane into the atmosphere, is to be banned under certain circumstances. 

Reporting and monitoring obligations also apply to oil, gas and coal imports from 2027.

According to Germany's Environment Agency, methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2) and is responsible for global warming and air pollution.  

Although it remains in the atmosphere for a shorter period, it is more potent than CO2. For example, It is produced in agriculture, landfill sites and the oil and gas industry. 

The new regulation is reportedly the first EU legislation to reduce methane emissions. The EU members states must formally adopt it before it can come into force. 

It announced on Wednesday that the European Parliament also approved previously negotiated plans for stricter CO2 targets for lorries and buses.

Specifically, this concerns the so-called fleet limits, which regulate how much climate-damaging CO2 vehicles may emit in future. 

The project had been on the back burner for some time, as the German government only agreed to the new rules at the last minute. 

According to the agreement, CO2 emissions from coaches and lorries are to be reduced by 90% by 2040 compared to 2019. 

Formal approval by the EU member states is still pending. The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere is to be better quantified and monitored in the EU in future after MEPs gave the green light in Brussels on Wednesday for a so-called certification framework for carbon removal.

This is intended to promote high-quality carbon removal and prevent so-called greenwashing. The regulation also covers various types of CO2 removal, including permanent gas storage using industrial technologies. 

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the EU member states agreed on corresponding plans in January.  

The parliament said the new rules would contribute to the EU's goal of being climate-neutral by 2050. They must also be formally adopted by the EU member states before they can come into force.

The European Parliament also decided on Wednesday to make it compulsory for pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to pay a large share of the wastewater treatment costs.

MEPs voted by a majority in favour of a compromise previously agreed to by parliamentary negotiators and their counterparts from the EU member states, according to which manufacturers will have to bear at least 80% of the costs in future.

This will be supplemented by national funds so there are no bottlenecks - especially for medicines - and they remain affordable.

According to the European Parliament, medicines and cosmetic products introduce micropollutants into wastewater, which sewage treatment plants cannot always filter out.

Under the new rules, wastewater will also be strictly monitored in future for antibiotic-resistant pathogens, viruses and microplastics. EU countries will also be obliged to promote the reuse of treated wastewater from all municipal wastewater treatment plants where appropriate - especially in areas of water scarcity. EU countries must fromally adopt the new rules before they can come into force.


Source: DPA
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