EU executive proposes methane emissions limit on gas imports - document
BRUSSELS, Oct 25 (Reuters) - The European Commission has proposed imposing methane emissions limits on EU gas imports from 2030, a move that would pressure the bloc's international fossil fuel suppliers like the U.S. to cut leaks of the potent planet-warming gas.
The proposal seen by Reuters on Wednesday and dated Oct. 23 comes in response to pressure from the European Parliament and some big EU countries including France in ongoing talks on a law addressing methane emissions inside the bloc.
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Methane is the main component of the natural gas countries burn in power plants and to heat homes. It is also a greenhouse gas and the second biggest cause of climate change after carbon dioxide, with a potent warming effect when it escapes into the atmosphere.
The new proposal would require foreign gas suppliers to curb methane emissions into the atmosphere from leaky oil and gas infrastructure.
"Failure to comply shall be disincentivised, taking security of supply considerations into account," said the draft proposal, made during EU negotiations on the upcoming methane-cutting law.
If the draft proposal is approved, the Commission would set out the details in an "implementing act" at a later date, it said. A Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the draft.
In the short term, methane has a higher planet-warming effect than CO2, but it leaves the atmosphere faster. Scientists say rapid cuts in methane emissions are crucial this decade if the world is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid its most devastating impacts.
Europe's gas supply sources have changed significantly in the last two years, after former top gas supplier Russia cut deliveries in 2022 following its invasion of Ukraine.
Norway, whose fossil fuel production has among the world's lowest methane emissions intensity, became the EU's top gas supplier last year.
But a methane limit could have a bigger impact on other gas suppliers to the EU where emissions rates are higher, such as Algeria and the U.S.
EU countries and lawmakers are trying to strike a final deal on the methane law before the U.N.'s COP28 climate summit, which starts on Nov. 30.
The draft Commission proposal would significantly strengthen the planned law. The original proposal for the EU methane rules, from 2021, focussed on oil and gas producers in Europe and left imported gas - more than 80% of EU supply - largely untouched.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Jan Strupczewski and Jan Harvey)