As Europe faces an energy crisis, it is time to plug the leaks | Popgen Tech


Europe is in an urgent energy crisis, with an immediate need for reliable, affordable sources.

At a time when countries are worried about keeping homes warm and lights on, one first quick and cheap option to fill some energy gaps created by the loss of Russian gas is to plug leaks and to keep wasting gas.

Capturing the staggering amount of natural gas – or methane – wasted each year by the oil and gas industry will mean progress on both the climate crisis and the energy crisis.

We know that solutions exist and what they are, and we know that much can be done without building expensive infrastructure that will encourage continued oil and gas dependence.

Globally, oil and gas companies waste at least 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year through leaks, flaring and other emissions that dump methane, a powerful climate pollutant, into the atmosphere.

The amount of gas wasted annually is almost 25% more than Europe imported from Russia before the war in Ukraine.

New EU methane rules must address 4 key areas

Europe is preparing to introduce new legislation to reduce the energy sector’s methane footprint. The Council of the European Union has agreed its position on the legislation, and the European Parliament will take its position before the summer. The last round of negotiations will take place in the second half of 2023.

The EU methane regulation under consideration has the power to put Europe at the forefront of global methane action, boosting energy security while slowing climate change.

But to deliver on that promise, the legislation must address 4 key challenges:

1. There is a lack of quality data about where methane emissions occur. We need to step up monitoring and data collection so we know where to target solutions.

2. Leaks in oil and gas infrastructure is widespread and has many causes, including poor maintenance and operating practices. We need to enforce leak detection and repair on a more frequent basis.

3. Venting and flaring is a harmful practice that involves burning or releasing methane into the atmosphere. Instead, we should prioritize capturing this wasted gas.

4. Imports. As the world’s largest importer of fossil fuels, Europe can use its market power to reduce global emissions by first setting high standards for its internal market, so that in the future this can also be extended to imported gas.

Environmental Defense Fund Europe has used its expertise in methane science and policy to develop a fact sheet and detailed policy recommendations aimed at strengthening and clarifying some of the technical aspects of the new regulation.

Building on global momentum for methane action

Countries around the world have woken up to the fact that methane, the pollutant that drives nearly a third of current warming, is the fastest-growing opportunity to curb climate change.

In November, together with the US, Japan, Canada, Norway, Singapore and the UK, the EU announced a joint declaration of energy importers and exporters, designed to make it easier for buyers and sellers of international traded natural gas to work together to reduce methane across supply chains.

New regulatory announcements from the US, Canada, Nigeria and Mexico – all major oil and gas producing states – promise serious methane momentum going into 2023.

Even China, which has not signed the Global Methane Pledge to reduce emissions by 30% this decade, has confirmed that it has drawn up a national plan for reducing methane emissions.

And technology is ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability when it comes to methane leaks, venting and flaring. MethaneSAT, an advanced methane tracking satellite developed by an Environmental Defense Fund subsidiary, is on track for launch in late 2023.

Once online, MethaneSAT will contribute data to the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS), a global platform launched by the United Nations Environment Programme’s International Methane Emissions Observatory to track emissions and encourage governments and businesses to respond.

With the Methane Regulation, the EU – which led more than 100 countries to sign the Global Methane Pledge – has the opportunity to lead the way in converting commitments into concrete climate action.

Policy makers are waking up to the idea that climate security and energy security are two sides of the same coin. It’s time to plug the leaks and stop the waste.

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