The European Parliament’s environment committee backed on Tuesday the executive Commission’s plan for a new law slashing methane emissions. The new legislation was supported by 61 votes in favor, 10 against, and 7 abstentions. The plan is expected to be put forward in December and it will bind companies with methane emissions reduction targets.
They will also be obligated to report them, find and fix leaks. It is likely that the lawmakers will support the upcoming legislation to clamp down on methane as it constitutes 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane’s heat-trapping potential is enormous. It is the second most damaging greenhouse gas after CO2 and heats 25 times more than carbon dioxide even though it only stays in the atmosphere for approximately 10 years before breaking down. Actions to curb further emission of the gas would produce quick results on climate change mitigation.
“By setting binding methane reduction targets, the EU can play a key role to get the rest of the world to do the same,” said Maria Spyraki, a Greek lawmaker.
She also added that this summer’s unprecedented floods and wildfires are forcing immediate climate actions to tackle the challenges posed by extreme weather changes. Slashing methane emissions could provide concrete and fast results on improving the weather conditions.
The whole European Parliament will vote on the new climate change law next month and the legislation will only come into force after a process of scrutiny by EU governments and legislators that could take up to two years.
In the US, cutting methane emissions is also a priority for President Joe Biden who urged world leaders to take immediate actions during the meeting of the Major Economies Forum on September 17th ahead of COP26.
Major economies like the US, China, Russia, and the EU are releasing unprecedented levels of methane emissions that will have to be cut as part of any climate change policy if the world is to limit global warming up to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.